Lokosa scores 11th goal as Pillars, Tornadoes draw in Kano
By Clement Nwankpa Jr
Kano Pillars and Niger Tornadoes played out a thrilling 1-1 draw in a Matchday 13 tie at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano. Andrew Ikefe gave the visitors the lead in the 20th minute while Junior Lokosa converted an 81st minute penalty to help Pillars to a share of the spoils.
It was Lokosa’s 11th goal of the season and his desperation to be on the score sheet was very obvious throughout the game. At this rate, Mfon Udoh’s 23 goals a season record looks threatened.
Lokosa was always eager to get to the end of crosses. And there were many exquisite deliveries, particularly from left-back Chris Madaki. But before he scored from the spot, his only attempt on target was in the 38th minute when he nodded Victor Dennis’s cross straight at Tornadoes keeper Mustapha Aliko.
Perhaps, he needs more composure in front of goal. Could the pressure be getting at him? Two things are involved. His rich goalscoring form could boost his confidence in front of goal making him hard to deal with just as the record he is chasing could also unsettle him and make him misfire when presented with opportunities.
The latter seemed to be the case in this game. Prior to kickoff, Lokosa received the League Bloggers Awards for January and February highlighting his growing status and, in the game, he was accorded due attention as Tornadoes lined out with a defensive formation that included Andrew Ikefe, Sunday Akinmoladun and Austin Igenepo to checkmate him.
Ikefe sat in front of the back four in case Lokosa dropped deeper as he is sometimes wont to. As Akinmoladun and Igenepo kept eyes on him while he prowled in the box waiting for the deliveries, Ikefe ensured he wasn’t given space to pop up from deep.
In the face of all the surveillance, Lokosa needed to be calmer but his desperation got the better of him. In the first half alone, Pillars had ten attempts off-target with Lokosa the biggest culprit.
He was also guilty of being selfish most of the time. It was obvious the entire team were playing for him as all the crosses were aimed at him. Even his sidekick Nyima Nwagua threw his big frame around teeing up Lokosa every now and then. But he didn’t seem to get reciprocal treatment from the league top scorer.
In the 43rd minute, Lokosa had only one thing in mind to shoot at target but he was sandwiched by Tornadoes defenders. Meanwhile, Nwagua ran into the box providing an option of a simple tap-in if Lokosa released the ball. But instead of passing the ball, Lokosa took on the defenders and lost possession.
Lokosa epitomised Pillars’ futile hustles most of the evening. While they dominated proceedings with tame attempts in the final third, Tornadoes’ Ibrahim Babawo lurked on the other end waiting to hit on the counter.
One mazy run in the 19th minute led to a corner kick. Babawo delivered the corner that was jabbed in by Ikefe. So against the run of play, Tornadoes led.
Even as Pillars pushed for the equaliser, Babawo’s presence always meant Tornadoes could hit again. In the 49th minute, he zoomed off, broke his run and teed up Abdulrasheed Nasidi whose effort was narrowly wide.
And when in the 55th minute, Tornadoes made a double substitution which saw the introduction of the pacy feeder team products, Bashir Usman and Ahmed Liman, Babawo had been given much desired support in attack.
All seemed primed for another shocker on the break with the very direct duo but Pillars got a lifeline when Igenepo handled the ball in the box. Lokosa stepped up and sent Aliko the wrong way. The calmness in dispatching the penalty had atoned for his earlier misses.
Even Pillars coach, Ibrahim Musa believes his team deserved more.
“You can see (that) today is not our day. If it was our day, we would have scored up to four goals in the first half. It’s part of the game. Some days are like that. We have to go away and get something,” he said.
His opposite number, Hamza Abara was more upbeat. “We came here to win. When I brought in those small boys, you can see I wanted to score again. But Pillars is a very good and experienced team and did well today to stop us. Otherwise, we would have taken all the points,” he boasted.
Kano Pillars: David Obiazo; Victor Denis, Chris Madaki, Jamil Muhammad Jamil, Adamu Murtala, Joel Djondang, Nzube Anaezemba (Mustapha Salisu, 60′), Alassan Ibrahim, Rabiu Ali (Nazifi Yahaya, 83′), Nwagua Nyima (Adamu Hassan, 64′), Junior Lokosa
Niger Tornadoes: Mustapha Aliko; Reuben Ogbonnaya, Hussaini Isah, Andrew Ikefe, Sunday Akinmoladun, Austin Igenepo, Iliyasu Isiyaku (Ahmed Liman,55′) , Abdulrasheed Nasidi (Bashir Usman, 55′), Ibrahim Babawo, Bolaji Adeyemo, Ifeanyi Okoye
Cautions: Tornadoes, Ifeanyi Okoye (62′); Pillars, Victor Dennis (86′)
Kano Pillars 1-1 Niger Tornadoes
On target 4-2
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