Boboye hails Plateau United substitutes’ impact in Uyo

By Fisayo Dairo

More often than not, coaches always take the blame or credit for the performances of their players in football matches. Unlike in a teacher-student relationship where the effect of a student’s performance in an examination can be felt by the student alone, outcome of games can either make or mar the coach.

Plateau United are the Nigeria Professional Football League’s reigning champions and although their title defence has not been particularly smooth, team’s head coach Kennedy Boboye has managed to carry them through; currently placed fourth on the log with same points as third-placed Katsina United.

Boboye took a depleted side to Uyo for their rescheduled Matchday 16 clash with Akwa United but the champions held their own to emerge with a deserved point in the end. Goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye, defenders Hamisu Saleh, Elisha Golbe and Salomon Junior, midfielders Benjamin Turba, Raphael Ayagwa and Ibeh Johnson and attackers Sunday Ingbede and Peter Eneji were some of the first team players who failed to make the trip to Uyo.

In the absence of the established stars, the former Sunshine Stars coach turned to many of his fringe players with players like Bitrus Wash, Lengkat Isah, youngster Seth Mayi and goalscorer Hamzat Owolabi making telling impact in the game.

“It wasn’t a bad game. We played against a highly tactical side but I think our own game plan paid off for us because we got something from this game and considering the squad issue we had,” Boboye told after the game.

As acknowledged by Boboye, the game came down to the tactical nous among both team’s bench and the visitors had the last laugh. The introduction of Paul Obata at half time by Akwa United gave them the fillip needed to get the game’s opening goal with the debutant involved in the buildup.

Akwa United’s dominance in the game was however halted when Boboye introduced first, Mayi and later, goalscorer Hamzat Owolabi. Owolabi came close on a couple of occasions before eventually netting the equaliser 16 minutes from time.

“It makes you happy when players play to instructions. Instructions were passed to them before going into the pitch and I think they did very well for the team and for themselves.”

Mayi who replaced Lengkat Isah just before the hour mark was making his debut for the team after promotion from the junior side and his coach was particularly impressed with the youngster’s performance, giving a hint that he might have earned the right to stay with the big guns.

“The guy that assisted the goal is a new guy that we registered just about three hours before the game and he came showing himself at the big stage.

“He is a young boy that I saw from the feeders team and he has proven himself that he is ready to stay,” said Boboye.

Plateau United still have an extra game in hand but in the mean time will face Nasarawa United in a north-central derby on Sunday, the reverse fixture of their opening day victory in Lafia.