Chinedu Udeagha’s 29th minute goal from a well taken free kick was enough to ensure Wikki Tourist emerged victorious in a tightly contested game at the Abubarkar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi.
The new Nigeria Professional Football League season is only four match days old but the battle for the title is beginning to hot up.
It was one of those magical kicks of winning goals. In the 29th minute, Chinedu Udeagha pumped a free-kick into the net from outside the box and that was enough to send the ball past Abiodun Akande. It was an incredible way to decide a game of this magnitude.
Stanley Eguma made six changes from the team that had breezed past Kwara United on Sunday. Lookman Binuyo dropped the bench and Kunle Odunlani stepped up to make his first league start for the club. The experienced utility player slotted in on the center of midfield and stepped into the “hole” Binuyo usually occupies. Recovering Fortune Omoniwari was also listed as a substitute.
This fixture has seen very few goals in recent years and this one followed suit.
After barely 120 seconds Andrew Abalogu swung over a cross from the right and Festus Austin rose above the Wikki Tourist attackers to power a header away.
The early pressure had belonged to Wikki Tourist but Rivers United responded. Cletus Emotan skillfully displaced his maker and his shot from 25 yards out forced Stanley Nwabali to dive full stretch to save.
It was becoming a high-quality, fast-paced game but there was precious little being manufactured in front of goal.
The magically moment came in the 29th minute of the game when Chinedu Udeagha stroke in the winner from a well taken free kick.
Rivers United were lively on the break with Stephen Gopey a very hot customer for Andrew Abalogu and his defence line but Wikki Tourist enjoyed territorial advantage, throwing cross after the cross into the box. Festus Austin, who had impressively out muscled Promise Damala when the attacker went clear in the opening stages, dealt with most of the danger.
The second half did not have the pace of the first but it was more open. Nazifi Yahaya took down Abalogu’s cross but blazed over.
Coach Stanley Eguma stepped up the game by bringing on Fortune Omoniwari and Nelson Esor in the 58th minute. The game continued at some pace and, if anything, Rivers United looked the better team to score but they failed to get the vital equaliser
Minutes after his introduction, Nelson Esor carved space for himself but his shot wide off target. Rivers United could not sustain their challenge until the centre referee Abubarkar Huntaka sounded the final whistle.
Reacting after the win, Head Coach of Wikki Tourist Usman Abdallah said he expected more goals from the encounter.
“We won the game in the first half. I expected a lot of goals maybe two or three in the first half but unfortunately we missed some chances and we didn’t get too much of the ball in their eighteen yard box. So we tried to do that in the second half which we did but we squadered a few chances there but it’s football, that’s how it is. We are lucky we got that first goal and we bagged in the three points. We are happy with that”.
Reacting after the loss, Rivers United Technical Adviser Stanley Eguma said that tried their best that fatigue was the instrumental for their loss
“After the game we played on Sunday, we had a terrible moment travelling to Bauchi. We had a hectic period because fatigue was very very instrumental to our lose today.”
“Maybe because of the breakdown we had on the road on our way coming. But I think that the players tried their best. We have lost today but we still have other games to play. We are going to correct our mistakes and work on the fatigue issue.”