El-Kanemi Warriors secured a one-nil away victory over Akwa United on Sunday as the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) resumes.

Ba’akaka Ajikolo profited from goalkeeper, Olorunleke Ojo’s expensive gaffe in stoppage time to give the visiting side a valuable win over the Promise Keepers in Uyo.

And Leke who was visibly frustrated at himself after his error was seen muttering “why me?”; why me?” Nevertheless, the highly-rated shotstopper is grateful. He writes on his known Facebook page:

Who Am I To Blame Or Question God, I Dare Not…
I Thank You GOD Bcos I Know You Are Still Able..
We Lost Today To Win Tomorrow..
We Remain UTD…

Ba’akaka, who had barely touched the ball since coming on as an 85th minute substitute at a time his team was at the back foot; the hosts threatening fire and brimstone which largely turned out like a fruitlessly rare thunderstorm in the summer, turned the match winner as the Desert Warriors secured maximum points on opening day for the first time in four years.

Mfon Udoh, one of the big name signings of the pre-season was among six fresh starters for the Promise Keepers with former Ifeanyi Ubah duo, Elu Wilson and Alberico da Silva also starting in Rafael Everton’s (himself formerly of Ifeanyi Ubah) first game in charge of Akwa United.

El-Kanemi Warriors have a new coach, Mohammed BabaGanaru who also started his former Yobe Desert Stars goalkeeper Itodo Akor in goal in Uyo. Akor was shielded in defence by another of his teammates in Damaturu, Solomon Babatunde.

The first half was played at a rather timid tempo but Udoh was the liveliest of all, his pace and trickery down the left flank proving too much for El-Kanemi right back Innocent Gabriel who sprawled on the floor time and time again like a ship on troubled waters.

The best chance of the half and virtually the best of the game came in the 15th minute when Mfon Udoh set up Da Silva after one of his mesmerising runs but the Brazilian opted to go for the spectacular; an acrobatic kick which he entirely missed.

El-Kanemi were presented with a golden chance against the run of play out of nothing in the 22 minutes but Sunday Anthony, shockingly left unmarked inside the box, headed Chris Giwa’s cross against the right frame of the post. His namesake Anthony Yeful then saw his long range effort saved by Olorunleke ten minutes later.

The second half started with Everton making a tactical substitution. Defender and captain for the day Godspower Igudia was treading the borderline of a dismissal and his coach was not ready to take risks, replacing the centre-back with winger and substantive captain Ubong Friday.

The change saw midfielder Emeka Atuloma move to centre back while Cyril Olisema moved to a central midfield role for the rest of the game.

The hosts had the ball at the back of the net one minute after the break but the assistant referee’s flag was already up with Ndifreke Effiong strolling into offside positioning. That marked the beginning of ten minutes of sustained pressure by Akwa United but their chances were fluffed repeatedly.

Five minutes from time, Alberico da Silva curled a free kick over and by the time Dennis Nya headed the Brazilian’s free kick over from inside the six-yard box moments later, the game looked destined for a stalemate.

Ba’akaka Ajikolo, or perhaps Akwa goalkeeper Ojo, however had other ideas. After making two sweeping clearances in stoppage time, Ojo took the third too far, beating his first opponent before over-stretching the ball inside the centre circle. He was robbed of possession and the visitors immediately spread the ball wide to the left flank for Ajikolo who despite having an opponent in front of him, controlled and curled a perfectly weighted effort into the empty net from 45 yards.

Akwa United were virtually the winners of pre-season and its accompanying razzmatazz but on Match Day One, they were the biggest losers!


Akwa United: 30. Olorunleke Ojo 15. Wilson Elu 17. Juwon Oshaniwa 13. Emeka Atuloma 35. Godspower Igudia (Ubong Friday 48′) 6. Dennis Nya 9. Mfon Udoh 23. Michael Ibe (Ocheme Edoh 70′) 21. Ndifreke Effiong (Wisdom Fernando 77′) 8. Alberico Da Silva 26. Cyril Olisema

Unused Subs: 22. Emmanuel Iwu 14. Jamilu Alimi 31. Kodjovi Dadzie 36. Ubong Essien

BOOKED: Godspower Igudia 5′


El-Kanemi Warriors: 30. Itodo Akor 13. Innocent Gabriel 35. Isaac Giwa 14. Abdulrazak Aliyu 6. Lucky Erimuya 5. Solomon Babatunde 34. Ali Aliyu (Ba’akaka Ajikolo 85′) 16. Anthony Yeful 22. Afolabi Abdulwaheed 8. Sunday Anthony (Osita Ichendu 68′) 17. Bello Musa (Chinedu Ohanachom 58′)

Unused Subs: 1. George Michael 2. Joseph Maamo 7. Isiaka Olawale 25. Idris Sabo

BOOKED: Abdulrazak Aliyu 27′

GOAL: Ba’akaka Ajikolo 90+4


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