Two second half goals by substitutes inspired Kwara United to a 2-0 victory over Abia Warriors in what was almost a cagey affair in the Nigeria Professional Football League Matchday 12 encounter at the Kwara Sports Complex, Ilorin.
Kwara United coach Abdullahi Biffo masterminded tactical substitutions where two of his three new entrants in the second half earned the Afonja Warlords their second win over the visitors in four meetings in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
Crude first half
Early exchanges of the game gave fans the hope for flurry of goals that never came in the first 45 minutes. Ganda Samuel, who got a starting role unlike a place on the bench against Warri Wolves last week, delivered a neat cross for Alao Danbani but the yellow-haired striker failed to direct his header downwards.
Abia Warriors made an instant retaliation on the attack as Ozor Chinedu’s cross caused a melee in the Kwara United box and ended with Oni Jimoh’s bicycle kick sailing well over the bar. A clash in the air during the melee resulted into a bruise head for Bello Lukman, who played the rest of the match with a roll as a distinctive means of identification apart from his lanky stature.
Inspired second half
The home team returned from the break with great intencity as they earned three corner kicks within the opening five minutes of the half. A powerful volley by Joshua Agboola from close range was parried by Abia Warriors goalkeeper, Charles Tambe, to result into one of the corner kicks.
The early chances showed weaklings that were hard to see in the Abia Warriors defense during the first half. Kwara United Coach Abdullahi Biffo took the initiative and introduced Alamayo Abdulrazaq and Adah Stephen to harness the opportunities.
The decision paid off in the 75th minute when the duo combined to send home fans joyous to their feet. After a neat interplay with Adah Stephen, Alamayo Abdulrazaq showed impressive finesse to curl home a beautiful right-footed effort at edge of the box beyond the reach of Tambe.
The goal was all the game needed all-day long as it opened the tight defense of both sides and presented half chances begging to be buried.
However, Kwara United will go on to seal the win in the 89th minute when Stephen’s weak left-footed effort took a wicked deflection off an Abia Warriors defender and crawl over the with a misdirected Tambe helplessly watching.
Speaking after the match, a relieved Biffo described the win as a “turning for the team”.
“The boys were jittery in the first half but I had to tell them to tell them to take things easy and play their game, which paid off.” he continued.
When asked about his thoughts on the inspirational substitutes, Biffo said “When the goal is not coming, you have to change the strategy and I told them to go in and not let the pressure get to them.”
In the other end of the post match press conference, Abia Warriors coach, Emmanuel Deutsch, displayed an infuriated figure but admitted the occasion was visibly tough for his team “We just played a bottom placed team which is always difficult.”
He further clarified that “such team will always do everything possible to leave the bottom position which is what played out on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Kwara United will next visit Enyimba for Matchday 13 activities while Abia Warriors host former Champions, Kano Pillars in Umuahia.
Kwara United: Abdullateef Ishola 34, Ganda Samuel 29, Dede Muoghara 24, ISSA B. Magaji 13, Christopher Nwanze 26, Ejeh Isaiah 16, Issah Saidu 17, Ozoh Philip 10, Alao Danbani 27 (SUBS 69′), Jibola Adeleke 18 (SUBS 49′), Agboola Joshua 8 (SUBS 71′)
SUBS: Iwu Emmanuel 35, Mutiu Oladejo 14, Fabian Nworie 15, Adah Stephen 25 (SUBS 49′), Afolabi Abdulwaheed 9 (SUBS 71′), Alamayo Abdulrazaq 37 (SUBS 69′), Tobi Adeyi 21
BOOKED: Abdullateef Ishola 82′
GOALS: Alamayo Abdulrazaq 75′, Adah Stephen 89′
Abia Warriors: Charles Tambe 30, Austin Obaroakpo 16, Parfait Jean 6, Innocent Gabriel 29, Ozor Chinedu 5, Bell Sylvester 27, Oghenetega Ebetomame 26, Yakub Hammed 13, Ikedinachi Nwakanma 24 (SUBS 50′), Bello Lukman 28 (SUBS 63′), Oni Jimoh 9
SUBS: Uche Okafor 33, Anozie Ugochukwu 22, Amos Ogbuagu 31, Asiegbu Shedrack 10, Nonso Paul 21, Paul Samson 20 (SUBS 63′), Auta Philip 11 (SUBS 50′)
BOOKED: Parfait Jean 9′, Oghenetega Ebetomame 21′, Bell Sylvester 43′, Austin Obaroakpo 66′
Kwara United 2-0 Abia Warriors
Shots on target: 5-2
Shots off target: 3-3
Yellow cards: 1-4
Red card: 0-0
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