Bala Mohammed pays tribute to Kaduna fans for Tornadoes survival

By Abdul Raheem

Niger Tornadoes fought back from a goal down to defeat Heartland 2-1 in a match that meant much for the two sides staying up in the elite campaign next season and the Minna side Manager, Abubakar Bala Mohammed didn’t hesitate to express appreciation to Kaduna fans for their support for the team. He then noted that it was difficult surviving playing the entire season away from their Minna base.

Speaking after the Matchday 37 fixture of the 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season at their adopted Ahmadu Bello Stadium on Sunday to escape relegation, Abubakar said without the support of the Kaduna fans they wouldn’t have retained their place in the NPFL.

After playing their home matches variously in Ilorin, Abuja and Kaduna, Tornadoes were in the throes of relegation ahead of Sunday’s match. It was a cagey affair, until the visitors confirmed their fears when substitute Nnamdi Egbujuo scored with less than 10 minutes to go.

But substitute, Ifeanyi Okoye saved Tornadoes’ blushes with a crucial equaliser two minutes later before slotting in the winning goal in added time.

“Today is one of the happiest moments of my coaching career. Playing 37 matches away from our Minna home and still surviving the season. We are happy and thankful to the Kaduna fans for their tremendous support.

“It was a difficult season for Niger Tornadoes playing always on the road but Kaduna fans with their vociferous support ensured that we survived the season. Kaduna is now our second home,” the Tornadoes gaffer said.

Ifeanyi Okoye, who earned Tornadoes the crucial win said he only had the intention to come in and make a difference in the game but never knew he will be the game changer.

“I thank God for coming in to make the difference. The game was difficult but we kept pushing. I never knew that I’m going to be the game changer, I believe I’m going to make the difference,” Okoye said.

However, Heartland Coach, Erasmus Onuh believes he has given his best to the Owerri side and is open to offers as soon as the season ends as a free agent.

“We played our best but lost to carelessness. I have done my best, since I came on board, I have not lost any match at home. Those home losses before I came in led us to where we are. At the end of the season, I’m a free agent.”

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