Kalla inspires Jigawa Stars to edge past Heartland in Kano
By Francis Achi
A stoppage time penalty converted by Ali Maro Kalla earned victory for Jigawa Golden Stars over hard-fighting Heartland as the game ended 2-1 in favour of the host team.
It was Matchday 25 game of the Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) played at the Sani Abacha Stadium on Wednesday evening and both sides gave good account of themselves in the encounter.
Heartland FC had thought that they could rescue a point in Kano when the team equalised in the 40th minute after Kalla had put Jigawa Stars into the lead with a bullet header from the corner kick taken by Saleh Ibrahim in the 28th minute of the thrilling encounter.
Chidera Eze profited from a mix-up in the defence of Jigawa Golden Stars to nod in the goal for Heartland as the game went into the break all square.
On resumption, Jigawa Golden Stars showed more hunger and determination as they outplayed Heartland in the game, yet the second goal refused to come with Chijioke Ejiogu displaying great agility in goal to deny Saleh Ibrahim and Samuel Stone on few occasions the chance to bury the game.
Ibrahim was particularly very wasteful, failing to convert the goals opportunities that came his way.
Heartland sat back as they deployed occasional counter-attacks with the attacking duo of Eric Dufegha and Emmanuel Nnamani combining well but their efforts could not rattle the defence of the home team.
However, it was Jigawa Stars that had more of the ball possessions and creates more opportunities of scoring. Samuel Stone tormented the defence of Heartland. He was well-positioned inside the box, but his shot went straight into the hands of Ejiogu in goal for Heartland.
As the game draws to an end, Heartland became more defensive as they tried to salvage a point and when it appeared that the game may likely end in a draw, the team conceeded a stoppage time penalty after one of the players handled the ball inside the box.
Despite a little bit of tensed atmosphere the penalty created, Kalla confident stepped out to score from the spot and ensured the maximum points for Jigawa Golden Stars, a team fighting against relegation in the NPFL this season.