Ohanu, Abbani figure in El-Kanemi’s success over Akwa United
By Joshua Tekidek
A goal in each half gave El-Kanemi Warriors a two-nil win over 10-man Akwa United in a rearranged NPFL game played in Maiduguri on Thursday afternoon.
Michael Ohanu scored a penalty in the 11th minute and Sani Abbani netted a sublime goal in the 53rd minute.
The result was a huge relief to El-Kanemi fans whose team have struggled of recent, swimming in relegation zone. Not just the result gladdened the hearts of their faithful, but also the good performance that was watched at the packed El-Kanemi Stadium.
It was a game that was important for both sides. While El-Kanemi needed the three points to move out from the relegation zone, United needed to boast their chances if they want to be champions.
El-Kanemi head coach Imama Amapakabo made three changes to the team that played against Rivers United in the last matchday. George Michael was named in goal replacing Jobe Modou, Abraham Audu and Razak Aliyu replaced Ebuka Anaekwe and Aghahowa Otakho.
Michael was making a return after being dropped since the last 10 games. Aliyu returned after serving a three-match ban for a straight red card on Matchday 18 at Katsina United. For attacking midfielder Abraham Audu, it was the first time he was being used as a left full back.
Akwa United’s assistant coach Aliyu Zubairu who was standing for Abdu Maikaba made only one change from the team that played in last matchday against Rangers.
Ezekiel Bassey who just returned from a stint abroad replaced Paul Obata.
The first quarter of the match witnessed rainfall but that did not interrupt play.
The home team started on a high note, forcing the visitors to concede five corners in the first six minutes. However the pressure yielded result when Jamiu Alimi conceded a penalty by handling the ball. Ohanu converted the spot kick in the 11th minute.
Five minutes later the visitors had a penalty appeal of theirs after an El-Kanemi player handled the ball but the referee waved play to go on.
El-Kanemi were in control, playing flowing football, with the trio of Ohanu, Abbani and Anthony in the thick of things.
Abbani should have doubled the lead in the 34th minute after controlling Tchoanfine Pade’s free kick, he failed to apply the finish, allowing Emmanuel Iwu in goal for the visitors to clear.
Akwa United’s first real chance came in the 39th minute when Victor Mbaoma combined with Ezekiel Bassey just for the latter to drag his effort away from target.
The visitors started the second half on an impressive note. They tried to press play in order to get the equalizer but failed to break the hosts.
El-Kanemi were dealt a big blow when Anthony Yeful picked up a knock and was replaced with Samuel Mathias.
Despite the visitors’ brilliant start to the second half it was the Amapakabo’s boys who put the ball in the net.
First Alimi conceded a corner after he cleared Abbani’s low cross and from the resulting corner, Abbani nodded in a Lazarus John’s cross. It was a sublime goal.
In the 57th minute, United goalkeeper Iwu made a double save to deny Ohanu and Sunday Anthony, but later at the other end El-Kanemi keeper George Michael made a fine save to deny Paul Obata.
Akwa United continued to push for a goal but their final touch failed them. However things were made worst when Jamiu Alimi was sent off for a second bookable offence, with his second offence on former Gombe United player, Sani Abbani.
Despite a man down, United tried to reduce the deficit with, Lolo’s direct shot, after they broke with pace, forced a save from Michael.
El-Kanemi will next visit Abia Warriors while Akwa United will host Go Round FC. Both matches hold this weekend.
El-Kanemi: Michael; John, Audu, Aliyu, Erimuya, Pade, Abbani, Anthony (Mathias 50′), Ohanu (Abdulwaheed 64′), Desousa (Mohammed 74′)
Subs not used: Modou; Gabriel, Otakho, Kofarmata
Goals: Michael Ohanu 11′(PK); Sani Abbani 53′
Akwa United: Iwu; Mathew, Wassa, Nya, Emmanuel, Alimi, Bassey, Olisema (Chilekwu 86′), Ede (Okechukwu 87′), Lolo, Mbaoma (Obata 63′)
Subs not used: Olorunleke; Effiong, Igudia, Asekunowo
Caution: Victor Mbaoma 31′, Olisema Cyril 73′, Chigozie Chilekwu 87′
Expulsion: Jamiu Alimi 79′