Akwa United football club of Uyo earned their first point of the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season with a hard-fought draw against former champions, Kano Pillars at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano State.
After a disappointing opening day defeat to El Kanemi Warriors at home, Coach Rafael Everton made five changes to his team, with goalkeeper, Ojo Olurunleke replaced with Cameroonian shot stopper, Jean Efala. Youngsters Etboy Akpan and Ubong Essien also came in for Wilson Elu and Emeka Atuloma respectively, while Adou Blaise and Kodjovi Dadzie were also handed their first start.
The changes paid off as new signing Ndifreke Effiong, gave Akwa United the lead in the 19th minute with a low strike after a beautiful pass from Cyril Olisema.
But the lead only lasted 23 minutes before Chris Madaki’s header in the 42nd minute equalised for Kano Pillars through an assist by Auwalu Ali Malam.
The Promise Keepers missed good scoring chances which could have won them maximum points.
Elsewhere, Bet9ja Nigeria National League (NNL) Super 8 champions, Kada City started their campaign in the NPFL with a 2-1 win over Gombe United.
Kada took the lead as early as 19th minute with a well taken freekick from Umar Mohammed. Coach Ladan Bosso’s Gombe United equalised shortly after in the 20th minute through Ibrahim Enesi Sani. Sadiq Suleiman restored Kada’s lead with a half volley before half time which gave them maximum points on their debut in the league.
It was a five-goal thriller in Ilorin as Kwara United got a scintillating 3-2 victory over their visitors, Enyimba International. Ibrahim Mustapha gave Enyimba the lead in the 16th minute, but the lead last just fifteen minutes with Segun Alebiosu getting the equalizing goal for Kwara in the 31st minute.
Joseph Osadiaye restored Enyimba’s lead in the 58th minute from the spot, but Alebiosu and Mohamed Usman had other ideas. Alebiosu equalised for Kwara in the 61st minute before Usman made sure of the result in the 73rd minute to condemn the People’s Elephant to their first defeat of the season.
In Bauchi, Wikki Tourist defeated Niger Tornadoes 2-1. Aminu Ahmad opened the scoring for Wikki in the 46th minute through an assist by Aminu Nuhu. Abba Umar doubled the lead seven minutes from regulation time for Wikki to secure the three points, before Ismaila Sarki got the consolation goal in 90+4 minutes for Niger Tornadoes with Ahmadu Liman providing the assist.
At Sagamu, NPFL returnees, Remo Stars and Bendel Insurance played out a 1-1 draw. Insurance captain Charles Omokaro put the visitors ahead in the 54th minute. Former Akwa United forward, Victor Mbaoma equalized for Remo Stars in the 76th minutes as both sides shared the point.
In Lafia, Nasarawa United suffered a shock home defeat to Heartland football club of Owerri. Samuel Nwoshiri scored the goal of the match in the 15th minute to give the away side their second victory and move them top of the Southern Conference with six points.
At the Ilorin Township Stadium, former champions, Plateau United defeated El Kanemi Warriors 2-0. Second half goals from Sead Jibrin and Ovoke gave Coach Abdul Maikaba’s men the needed win in their adopted home.
NPFL MATCHDAY 3 RESULTS
Plateau Utd 2-0 El-Kanemi
Wikki 2-1 Tornadoes
Kwara United 3-2 Enyimba
Remo Stars 1-1 Insurance
Go Round 0-0 FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Kano Pillars 1-1 Akwa United
Kada City 2-1 Gombe United
Nasarawa United 0-1 Heartland