Akwa outplay Enyimba in Uyo to move up to fourth place
By Janefrances Nweze
A goal in each half from Michael Ibe and Dennis Nya was enough to give Akwa United the full points against Enyimba in a rescheduled NPFL match Uyo on Wednesday.
Both teams came into the match hoping to make appreciable climb on the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) log.
Akwa United manager, Abdu Maikaba, who got a goalless draw against Enyimba in Calabar in the reverse fixture started the game strongly with Paul Obata, Michael Ibe and Ifeanyi Ede leading the attack.
While Enyimba’s Paul Aigbogun had the pair of Joseph Osadiaye and Chinonso Okonkwo upfront.
Akwa started the game strongly with Paul Obata producing the first attempt at goal in the fifth minute but Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai parried it away to safety.
Twelve minutes later Michael Ibe shot the home team ahead following an assist from Gabriel Wassa.
Enyimba made a close attempt in the 28th minute when Akwa keeper, Ojo Olorunleke diverted Osadiaye’s volleyed effort but Maxwell Effiom couldn’t utilize the rebound.
Just before the end of first half, Akwa’s counter attack crossed to Aniekeme Asuquo was saved by Afelokhai.
After the break, in a bid to improve their game, Enyimba tried playing a one-two touch but were always cut off by the Akwa midfield who fought desperately each time they lost the ball.
In the 55th, Osadiaye made a run into the box but was unable to get his head to Benjamin Francis’ deep cross.
Fifty seven minutes into the game, the visitors got a freekick at the edge of the box after former Enyimba midfielder, Kelly Kester fouled Okonkwo but Osadiaye’s cross was punched over the post by Olorunleke.
Maikaba introduced Nanen Imenger for Ubong Essien, while Akwa’s leading goalscorer, Victor Mbaoma stepped into Ifeanyi Ede’s shoes six minutes later.
Mbaoma’s first contact with the ball was heading a free kick over the post.
The hosts doubled their lead when Nya jumped high to head home Asuquo’s corner.
Eleven minutes before the end of regulation time, Enyimba pulled one back. Abalogu played a cross to Okonkwo, before sending it to substitute Alalade who finished off perfectly.
After the goal, Enyimba pressed to see if they could get a draw but Akwa defended their slim lead till the end of the game.
Speaking after the match, Enyimba gaffer, Aigbogun gave credit to the hosts saying that Akwa were better on the day.
“Nothing happened. Akwa United played better than us. I think Akwa started strongly and we conceded early in the game and after the second goal it became difficult to redeem,” Aigbogun said.
However, Akwa United assistant coach Aliyu Zubairu believes that their team keep getting better.
He said: “This (win) is as a result of the work we have been doing in the team. Other games we create more chances but score less. We will keep working on the the team.”