Ayeni aims continental spot following Akwa bashing of Nasarawa

Ayeni aims continental spot following Akwa bashing of Nasarawa

A 6-1 thrashing of Nasarawa United was Coach Deji Ayeni’s fifth game without a defeat since joining defending champions, Akwa United from Sunshine Stars of Akure in mid-season.

Akwa United have endured an indifferent start to their title defense but revival to their quest for a continental ticket emerged with the goal fest against Nasarawa United of Lafia in a MatchDay 24 game played at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Thursday

After the game, an excited Ayeni said he sees the team’s fortunes improving by the end of the campaign. He says that a continental ticket is possible for the Uyo-based side. 

“I came at a time when the team was struggling. They have quality players, but the challenge was their mentality. They only needed to believe in themselves.”, Ayeni told www.npfl.ng

“We have worked closely for the past couple of weeks, and I can attest that there has been significant progress. We hope to improve as we progress. The future is bright for the team, and we will push for the continent”, he said.

It was the 24th time both sides met in the top flight. The visitors came into the fixture with a slight head-to-head advantage, having won 8 and drawn 8 of the previous 23 games.

Ayeni welcomed his captain Ubong Friday back to the fold after three games, while defenders Orji Kalu, Dennis Nya, and Sampson Gbadedbo are yet to return from their respective injuries. 

The Promise Keepers got the fixture off to a bright start in the 9th minute when Nasarawa’s goalkeeper, Umar Danlami failed to hold Bello Babatunde’s 25 yards freekick. Ubong Friday was at the right spot to scramble in the rebound. 

Adam Yakubu doubled Akwa’s advantage in the 17 minute. Wisdom Fernando’s goals in the 22nd and 28th minute, helped the home side secure a four-goal advantage going into the break. 

Nasarawa United returned for the second half, hoping to peg back their hosts. King Osanga brought some spark to the Lafia side when he drilled home a rebound to reduce the deficit nine minutes after the restart.

Osanga’s goal ignited the home side to push further and restore the four-goal advantage three minutes after. Babatunde’s swerving shot displaced Danlami for the fifth. Substitute Franklin Matib came on with the final flourish on 79 minutes to compound Nasarawa’s woes. 

Bala Niyuku, attributed his team’s defeat to loss of concentration, pledging to address the challenges observed from the defeat suffered in Uyo. 

The win took Akwa United to 6th place on the log, with another home game to Lobi Stars of Makurdi on the cards. Nasarawa United slipped to 13th on the log with a date at home to Dakkada FC.

Match Stats:

Corners: 3-4

Shots: 11-5

On Target: 8-2

Fouls Won: 18-14

Yellow: 0-2

Red: 0-0

Saves: 1-2

Offsides: 1-2

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