By Akila Matawal
Another round of matches were held in the Nigeria Professional Football League on Sunday. The matchweek was full of drama, controversies and some outstanding individual performances. For the second straight week, there were no away wins.
The biggest talking point from the weekend’s action was arguably Dakkada’s disallowed goal at Kano Pillars. At Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Akwa United saw their lead at the top of the table cut to three points after Bakari Bamba netted a late goal to cancel out Charles Atshimene’s opener to earn Rivers United a point against the Uyo side.
As the dust settles on the matchweek, it is time to reveal the players that caught our eye. We, again, settle for a 4-3-3 formation for our best XI.
Goalkeeper: Jean Efala (Akwa United)
In the absence of the injured Adeyinka Adewale, coach Boboye handed the Cameroon international a first league start since January 18. The goalkeeper didn’t disappoint as he made staggering saves to deny Rivers United from finding the back of the net on several occasions in the 1-1 draw in Portharcourt. It was a man-of-the-mach performance from the former Coton Sport man.
Right Back: Chigozie Obasi (Nasarawa United)
His perfectly-weighted long pass ball assist from distance was converted by Silas Nwankwo as the Solid Miners edged out MFM 1-0.
Left Back: Bakary Bamba (Rivers United)
Rivers United had Bakary Bamba to thank after his ferocious strike from a tight angle found the back of the net three minutes from time to salvage a point for the Pride of Rivers against table toppers Akwa United.
Centre-back: Sampson Gbadebo (Akwa United)
Often not given the kind of praise he deserves, Samson Gbadebo has been one of the key performers for title-chasing Akwa United this season. Against Rivers United, the defender was solid all evening. He made several interceptions and clearances.
Centre-back: Denis Nya (Plateau United)
Handed a rare start against relegation-threatened Ifeanyi Ubah, Denis Nya grabbed his opportunity with both hands and shone as his Plateau United side thumped the Nnewi club 4-0 in Jos – providing the assist for Daniel Jackson in the fifth minute for the first goal of the tie.
Midfielder: Saleh Ibrahim (Wikki Tourists)
Saleh Ibrahim’s goal was the difference as Wikki Tourists got a vital 1-0 win over struggling Abia Warriors in Bauchi.
Midfielder: Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars)
Rabiu Ali netted Kano Pillars’ opening goal in their 2-0 win over Dakkada in Kaduna. His beautiful strike set Pillars on course for victory.
Midfielder: Oche Ochowechi (Plateau United)
Plateau United midfielder Oche Ochowechi was outstanding in midfield in their 4-0 win against FC Ifeanyi Ubah in Jos. He got on the scoresheet as well.
Right Winger: Chijioke Akuneto (Heartland FC)
Chijioke Akuneto got Heartland’s winner in the 2-1 win over neighbours Enugu Rangers at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri.
Centre Forward: Daniel Jackson (Plateau United)
Daniel Jackson opened his Plateau United goal account and also assisted one in the 4-0 drubbing of Ifeanyi Ubah.
Sunday Williams (Warri Wolves)
It was a big test for Warri Wolves in Ozoro against Kwara United, but Sunday Williams slotted in a crucial goal as the Seasiders kept their survival hopes alive with a 1-0 triumph.
Coach: Kennedy Boboye (Akwa United)
Kennedy Boboye surely deserves applause for leading his table toppers to a draw. He is our our coach of the match day.
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