El-Kanemi leave it late to edge Nasarawa United 1-0

By Joshua Tekidek

Sunday Anthony’s late strike gave El-Kanemi Warriors a lone goal win over 10-man Nasarawa United in the final game of Matchday 4 of the NPFL at the Maiduguri Township Stadium on Thursday.

The game which saw few chances created due to brilliant defending from both sides seemed to be heading into a stalemate until Anthony who came in the second half sealed it for the home side.

After superb defending, Nasarawa United failed to hold on after defender Bello Abdullahi received the marching order for a second bookable offence with just three minutes to full time.

The match had a lot of talking points, one of which was Zinte Udeh’s goal being cancelled at the stroke of half time after the referee ruled there was a foul.

FIRST HALF

El-Kanemi dominated the first half but could not make their dominance count. Whatever build-up they had, was wasted with their forwards showing poor finishing. Suleiman Mohammed was the worse culprit. The forward was withdrawn with five minutes to half-time.

El-Kanemi made their intention from the outset known when Samuel Agba hit the side net, and there were also chances for Isaac Giwa and later on Idris Sabo in the early moments.

Despite being overwhelmed, the visitors showed some moments of brilliance.

In the 22nd minute, Sanusi Ibrahim shot wide after he received a lovely pass from Ikechukwu Nwani. A minute later, George Michael in goal for El-Kanemi anticipated well as he came out of his box and stopped Katoh Haggai’s goal-bound effort.

Nasarawa United thought they should have had a penalty but referee Femi Okebukola waved away with forward Zinte who kept defenders Babatunde Solomon and Osita Echendu busy on the turf following an innocuous challenge.

The forward later had a goal – a header from an Ismaila Maiyaki free kick – disallowed, for a foul.

SECOND HALF

The half had the visitors sit deep in their half with Nwani cutting a lone figure upfront. Nasarawa United’s game-plan was simple – repel the long balls coming in and hit the home side with counter-attacking football.

El-Kanemi Warriors were frustrated, so were the fans, the tension was felt around the arena. With almost every man behind the ball for Nasarawa United, Mohammed BabaGanaru’s men were limited to trying out from way out with most of their attempts going wide and off target.

BabaGanaru brought in Sunday Anthony for Anthony Yeful, and later Chinedu Ohanochom was called in. He replaced Ali Aliyu.

However the visitors suffered a big blow when with three minutes to time when Abdullahi received the marching order.

There was a long break in play after United goalkeeper Galadima Mohammed was treated for injury. The game therefore had to go for a long additional time.

Deep into added time, El-Kanemi won a free kick, Echendu dropped it inside the box, it was weakly cleared and it fell to Anthony who was few metres outside the box, the substitute then created space for himself and fired a rocket of a shot which nestled in the net for the winner.

Anthony’s goal ensured El-Kanemi secured their third win in four matches as they prepared for a trip to the south-south to face Go Round FC in the next matchday this Sunday.

For Nasarawa United, they head back to Lafia to face Akwa United this weekend.