Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia on Saturday wrapped up their 2016/2017 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) season with a spectacular 4-1 demolition of visiting Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Abia Warriors began the game at the Umuahia Township Stadium on a poor note and were punished for this in the 23rd minute.
Rivers United forward Guy Kueman cashed in on a lapse in the Abia Warriors’ defence to put the ball behind goalkeeper Chinedu Anozie for their lone goal.
However, Effiong Ndifereke drew his side level in the 32nd minute, when he fired a shot past goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi from outside the penalty area.
Ndifereke gave his side the lead in the 49th minute, when he converted a penalty kick after a Rivers’ defender handled the ball.
Stanley Nwuju, who replaced Amanfor Chimezie, extended his team’s lead in the 88th minute with a powerful shot into the net.
In the second minute of added time, Moses Omoduemuke latched on to a pass to place the ball behind the goalkeeper for Warriors’ fourth goal.
The captain of Rivers United, Festus Austin, who looked devastated by the result, told NAN at the end of the match that his team lost grip of the game when they conceded the equaliser.
“We lost grip of the game in the first half,” Austin said, adding that “the equaliser demoralised us.’’
He said the team thought it “could pick up a point in Umuahia’’ to improve their standing on the log.
Reflecting on the season, Austin said it was difficult for his side, saying “the beginning of the season was actually difficult for us and we picked up late’’.
He however said they had learnt their mistakes and were hopeful of correcting them next season.
Coach Abdullahi Biffo of Abia Warriors expressed happiness that the club survived the relegation threat.
“I must give kudos to the players for their resilience,” he said, adding that even when they were one goal down, they pushed hard and got the equaliser.
The coach said the equaliser acted as the tonic which propelled the team to pummel the visitors with more goals.
He however regretted that the team failed to sustain its brilliant performance in the first stanza of the league and now had to struggle to avert relegation.
Biffo gave assurance that the management and coaching crew would meet to analyse their performance and ascertain their weak points and mistakes with a view to correcting them next season.
In an interview with NAN at the end of the game, a cross-section of football fans expressed joy that at the end of the day, the club did not go into relegation.(NAN)