The Nest of Champions in Uyo hosted the match between Akwa United and Rangers Int’l FC (Picture Courtesy: Akwa United Media)
The much anticipated Nigeria Professional Football League matchday 22 encounter between Akwa United and Rangers International FC ended in a goalless draw at the Nest of Champions in Uyo.
The hosts, Akwa United, with a flawless home record, hoped to use the match to consolidate their top spot on the league standings. The Flying Antelopes were hoping to bounce back after losing 1-0 to Rivers United in Enugu on matchday 21.
The Promise Keepers created the first chance of the match in the 2nd minute of the match when in-form player, Charles Atshimene gave a pass to Mfon Udoh but the striker’s effort was saved by goalkeeper Seidu Mutawakilu.
The game advanced with both teams trying to understand how to get the goals but it was really tight in the middle. In the 20th minute, Etim Matthew suffered a knock and was replaced by Otobong Effiong.
Just before half-time, referee Grema Mohammed got busy, he showed yellow cards to Dare Ojo of Akwa United and Tony Shimaga of Rangers. The first half ended with cautions.
In the second half, things got heated, the game became physical and the referee unleashed more yellow cards. Captain of the home side, Otobong Effiong wasn’t forgiven in the 55th minute when he brought down Olawoyin.
In a bid to turn things around, coach Kennedy Boboye made a triple substitution in the 65th minute. Mfon Udoh, Ubong Friday and Ikechukwu left the field for Nasiru Jibril, Wisdom Fernando and Abubakar Aliyu.
The changes brought some sparks with Abubakar Aliyu making some dazzling runs that troubled the Rangers’ defence. He made an instant impact when he forced goalkeeper Seidu to make a save to a goal-bound effort.
There was a scary moment for the hosts when Dare Ojo fouled Ibrahim Olawoyin in a dangerous position. Freekick awarded to the Flying Antelopes. Game time is 80 minutes old, Kelvin Itoya stepped up to the role but his effort couldn’t go beyond the wall.
The closing minutes of the game produced drama. Goalkeeper Seidu was booked for time wastage and the next moment, substitute Issif Traore was sent off for a foul on Atshimene who was chasing a long ball.
Freekick to Akwa United. Defenders David Philip and Olisa Ndah are positioned to take it. Ndah takes it but the ball goes wide. The referee’s final whistle goes off. Game over!
Coach Boboye is not so disappointed with the result. “It wasn’t a bad one. We fought hard but we just unlucky to drop two points at home. Our opponents came to defend and it worked for them.”
With the result, Akwa United extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches, retained top spot but tied on 41 points with Kano Pillars. Sai Masu Gida played 1-1 with Katsina United at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina. The reliable Rabiu Ali scored a beautiful freekick.
Akwa United’s next match is against Abia Warriors on Thursday at the Okigwe Township Stadium.
NIGERIA PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Matchday 22 Results
Akwa United 0 Rangers Int’l FC 0
Nasarawa United 3 Heartland FC 1
Plateau United 4 Wikki Tourists 1
Adamawa United 3 Warri Wolves 3
FC Ifeanyi Ubah 1 Sunshine Stars 0
MFM FC 1 Lobi Stars 0
Katsina United 1 Kano Pillars 1
Jigawa Golden Stars 1 Dakkada FC 1
Rivers United 0 Abia Warriors 0