Abia Warriors, Kano Pillars tie stalemated in Umuahia
By Fisayo Dairo
Abia Warriors played out a 0-0 draw with Kano Pillars in one of ten Matchday 24 games decided on Sunday.
Midfielder Jimoh Oni headed the hosts’ best chance of the game over the bar in stoppage time and buried his head firmly in his palms as referee Isyaku Ibrahim brought the tepid encounter to a close.
The game was the third that Abia Warriors would play behind closed doors after the club was sanctioned following crowd trouble in their game against Lobi Stars.
Both sides made one change each to their previous encounters as Kano Pillars continued life without top striker Junior Lokosa and more recently, defender Kalu Orji who is reported to be in Morocco for a deal.
Defender Emmanuel Anyanwu replaced the centre-back while Adamu Hassan continued in place of Lokosa who was dropped from Nigeria’s World Cup squad last week.
It was Hassan who almost gave the visitors a dream start. The experienced star collected Auwalu Ali’s pass from the air and volleyed goalwards with just two minutes on the clock but Warriors goalkeeper Uche Okafor turned his effort brilliantly over the bar.
Emmanuel Deutsch-led Abia Warriors responded swiftly but Samson Obi could not bring his header down following a cross from right back Chinedu Ozor in the fifth minute.
If the opening exchanges hinted at a lively end-to-end affair, then the observers of the game must be disappointed in the end as the remainder of the first half especially did not live up to it.
In spite of the rarity in chances created, Pillars goalkeeper David Obiazo still had to keep his side in the game with a double save from Ndifreke Effiong and Samson Obi on the half hour mark.
Pillars star midfielder Rabiu Ali was presented with the final chance of the first half but his free kick went over the wall and the bar.
The second half became a battle of tactics between Deutsch and his Pillars contemporary Ibrahim Musa with both coaches cancelling each other out in the end.
Warriors defensive midfielder Arinze Nwangwu was stretchered off late in the first half after receiving a kick from Auwalu Ali and he did not return for the second half. In his place, Deutsch introduced centre forward Sunday Adetunji, with Jimoh Oni going to a more central position.
Adetunji it was who had the first real chance of the second half but he blazed his left-footed effort over the bar on 63 minutes before Samson Obi miskicks another fairly good chance one minute later.
Nyima Nwagua was left with a bandaged head after the game after a number of physical contests with Warriors defender Kabiru Ayinde. The former Go Round FC striker went closest for his side, his 25 metres effort going inches wide.
Pillars coach Musa then replaced Rabiu Ali with defender Ismail Jimoh as he looked to close the tie off.
There was still one final chance for either sides in the final five minutes. Left back Chris Madaki volleyed Ikenna Hilary’s free kick for Pillars over the bar five minutes from time while Oni headed Bashir’s cross over in the final act of the game in stoppage time.
Abia Warriors stay in seventh position, four behind Pillars who are in third spot on the log.
Abia Warriors: 33. Uche Okafor 5. Chinedu Ozor 17. Chisom Osuji 29. Arinze Nwangwu (Sunday Adetunji 46′) 6. Abiodun Adebayo 26. Kabiru Ayinde 24. Jimoh Oni 10. Ndifreke Effiong 21. Samson Obi (Eugene Ossy Martins 79′) 31. Shedrack Asiegbu 13. Yakub Hammed (Sheriff Bashir 72′)
Unused Subs: 1. Joshua Enaholo 3. Ubong Williams 16. Austin Obaroakpo 23. Atu Irumekhai
Kano Pillars: 22. David Obiazo 2. Ifeanyi Nweke 11. Chris Madaki 18. Ikenna Hilary 14. Emmanuel Anyanwu 4. Joel Djondang 24. Nzube Anaezemba 16. Auwalu Ali (Sikiru Kamal 75′) 28. Nyima Nwagua (Gambo Muhammad 90′) 19. Adamu Hassan 10. Rabi’u Ali (Ismail Jimoh 76′)
Unused Subs: 1. Yusuf Muhammad 7. Hamza Abba Tiya 27. Victor Denis 30. Mustapha Ibrahim
BOOKED: Auwalu Ali (42′)
Referee: Isyaku Ibrahim
Man of the Match: Ikenna Paul Hillary (Pillars)