Rivers United and Akwa United settled for a 2-2 draw in what was a thrilling encounter on Wednesday, in the ongoing Governor Nyesom Wike Preseason Tournament.
In a match which lived up to its expectations, Rivers United started they game slowly and were duly punished in the 24th minute by a dominant and persistent Akwa United, when Ikechukwu Nwani expertly headed home Morice Chukwu’s free kick to put his team ahead.
Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma made tactical changes by bringing on former Akwa United player Fortune Omaruwani for Bashir Sheriff just before the break and Nelson Esor just after the restart.
The two substitutes combined together after a solo run from Esor who exchanged passes with Omaruwani to level the scores for the Pride of Rivers in 63rd minute.
Akwa United were penalize after a defender handled the ball in the box and goalkeeper Theopjilus Afelokhai made no misstate from the spot, putting Rivers United in front in the 68th minute.
Two minutes later, Olisa Ndah headed home Chukwu’s cross in the 70th minute to level scores for Akwa United which was enough to give them a deserved point.
Speaking after the game, Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma said his team is progressing well and expect them to be up to speed when the season commences.
“My team is still in progressing well, the competition has given us the time to reassess the team and players to know what to expect as the main competition begins.”
Rivers United started the game slowly, just like the last two matches, but Eguma says his team will come good on that.
“Sometimes it is like that, when you make plans to go for a game especially in preseason like this, but after watching for sometimes you start to make the necessary tactical adjustments, that will now give us the result that we expect and that is what we saw today.
“He (Esor) used to start games. Some games, tactically, he has to come in and change the game and that is what he did when he came on.”
Eguma also praised the qualities of goalkeeper Afelokhai and defender Ifeanyi Anaemena: “They are good players anytime any day. In Enyimba they were good and for us they are also good players, you can see their performances and we hope they can improve the team.”
Rivers United later this month will take on Futuro Kings of Equatorial Guinea in the CAF Confederations Cup and Eguma says his team will not underrated their unknown opponent.
“No match is an easy match, we know Equatorial Guinea as a country and teams that are there, but we do not know this opponent, they seems to be a new team but we will try to get clips of their matches and know what to expect in other to get the right result.”
Akwa United keeps their hopes of winning the preseason alive salvaging a point which keeps them one point ahead of Rivers United in group A with 5 points from three matches.
Coach Kennedy Boboye praised the quality of the game and says his team will continue to work on the training ground.
“It was a good game, both teams tried to win but we settled for a point. It is for us to continue working hard on set pieces, every training session we go, we try to work on them and it has paid us in this tournament and we wish to carry on from there.”
Super Eagles U23 player, Olisah Ndah has proven to be very versatile, playing as a centre back and a defensive midfielder, Boboye says he is a blessed child with talent who can anywhere on the pitch.
“I play Olisa Ndah anywhere in the pitch, defence, midfield, attack, he is just a blessed child that is talented to play anywhere apart from goalkeeping, anywhere you play him he will stabilize that area as a position.”
Boboye also praised new signing Abbas Sadick who joined the team this month and has already hit the ground running.
“This is the third game he has played for us, with what we’ve been seeing on the training ground, we decided he can play for us. He is an experienced player but he needs time and he is someone that will be honest to tell you he has not played for some time because of what is happening in his area.”
Other results in the tournament on Wednesday saw Ottasolo FC beating Cynosure FC 1-0 and Bayelsa United were awarded 3 goals and 3 points after Udala FC failed to show up their match.
Rivers United will play Cynosure FC by 2pm on Thursday, while Akwa United will play Ottasolo FC by 4pm.
Abia Warriors will also take on MFM FC by 9am on Thursday.
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