- Published on Sunday, 27 August 2017 20:23
- Hits: 1345
By Ademola Olajire
Usual suspect Adamu Hassan’s close–range header, about the last move of the first half, was the difference as Nasarawa United mined three precious points and condemned Kano Pillars to a second painful defeat in three days.
The big news before the match was how 'Sai Masu Gida' were working hard to pick up morale from the floor after a stunning penalty shootout defeat to lower league team Yobe Desert Stars in their AITEO Cup round of 64 clash in Damaturu on Thursday.
The loss in the northeast was certainly the biggest shock of the competition so far, and left Pillars with much to do psychologically against a team that normally presented them with migraine (Nasarawa United), and not forgetting the long distance journey from Damaturu. On that score, the visitors deserved credit for starting the game at a frenzy pace, with skipper Rabiu Ali, Adamu Mohammed, Sikiru Kamal and Amos Gyang stringing good passes together as they mounted pressure on the Miners’ rearguard.
Against the run of play, CHAN Eagles’ forward Thomas Zenke and Adamu Hassan were presented with an opportunity as Victor Dennis slipped when attempting a clearance, leaving the two with Chinedu Udoji and goalkeeper Danladi Isa. They could not make it past the duo. Two minutes later, Nasarawa goalie Suraj Ayeleso, who achieved a 15th clean sheet of the season, was called to action as Nyima Nwagua was presented with an opportunity in the box. He rose to the occasion.
Nwagua, steadily turning into a fixture in the Pillars’ line-up, with four goals so far for the Sai Masu Gida in the second stanza of the season, called out Ayeleso a couple of times with long range efforts. At the other end, Chinedu Udoji and Chris Madaki were made to work over–time as the dazzling footworks of Zenke, Hassan, Abdulrahman Bashir, Douglas Achiv and overlapping defender Olayinka Onaolapo threatened a deluge.
Eight minutes before half time, Rabiu Ali had a clear sight of goal as the visitors poured forward, only for Ayeleso to deny him again. But just as everyone was preparing for recess, Zenke picked up the ball from the right, left Madaki on grass and floated into the box. Stand–in skipper Ishaya Anyu flicked the effort with his own head, freeing Adamu Hassan to power a close range header that Danladu Isa could do nothing about.
In the second half, Pillars came out with more energy and determination, and Rabiu Ali, Jamil Mohammed, Adamu Mohammed, Kamal, Amos Gyang and Nwagua threw everything into the fray. However, the rearguard of Olayinka Onaolapo, Jide Williams, Seun Sogbeso and Eugene Obi would not cave in, with goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso keeping the faith whenever anything got past them.
Just 15 minutes to go, Ali stung Ayeleso with a fierce drive from a 27–yard free kick, which the latter parried for a corner. At the other end, substitute Tayo Fabiyi should have done better than heave a golden opportunity over the top with only goalkeeper Danladi Isa to beat.
Kabiru Suleiman Dogo (Head coach, Nasarawa United): "We are overjoyed to pick three very important points here today against a very strong and respected team. I tell you, this win has given us tremendous confidence for our last two matches of the season. It means that if we make the effort, whether playing at home or away, we can achieve our objective. I admire the strength and perseverance of Kano Pillars and their good conduct on the field of play. We will go all out in our last two matches and give it everything so that we can pick a continental ticket. It is possible!"
Ibrahim Musa (Head coach, Kano Pillars): "No doubt, we lost to a very good team. I have no complaints. My players gave their very best and did not stop going until the final whistle. Nasarawa United deserve their victory and I congratulate them. The officiating was top–notch. We have no issues with it."
Sikiru Kamal (Kano Pillars midfielder): "This defeat is very painful. But that is football for you. We came here with all energy and spirit to get the three points and shoot further up the table but that was not to be. We have no one to blame for that. Nasarawa United did the job and I congratulate them."
Adamu Hassan (Man of the match): "We were highly motivated for this match. The management told us we would get something special if we got the three points, even though they did not tell us what. That served as a motivation for each and every one of us and we gave it our best shot. I am happy that we won, and I am happy to be considered the man-of-the-match."
Man Of The match: Adamu Hassan (Nasarawa United)
Nasarawa United 1-0 Kano Pillars
Shots on target: 3-3
Shots off target: 3-2
Free kicks: 19-13
Corner kicks: 8-4
Yellow Cards: (Ishaya Anyu 15’, Seun Sogbeso 75’, (Nasarawa United); Sikiru Kamal 27’, Chris Madaki 49’ (Kano Pillars)
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