It was a match that will go down as one of the most interesting in Nigerian Professional Football League’s history.
Victor Ikpeba admitted it was the most exciting NPFL game he had ever seen in all his NPFL-games-watching career. And when a pundit speaks like that, you know a lot went down during the game.
A five-goal thriller, the game between Akwa United and Rangers International was a very open one. Back and forth the action swung, with both clubs threatning to score with every move in the opposition’s direction.
There were flicks and kicks. Tackles and dribbles. There was a display of deadly attacking prowress by both sides and some outstanding goalkeeping by the goalies who did not want to be victims the whole 90.
But what did I learn?
— Opta Nigeria (@OptaNGR) July 16, 2016
– Rangers Came To Win
The Enugu-based side were the visitors in this encounter. And they had one thing in mind: take all three points back home. They were second on the log, behind Wikki Tourist and they wanted that top spot so badly.
They took matters into their own hands in the second half after Lady Luck smiled on them and caused Harrison of Akwa United to score an own goal. Let’s just say they scored two goals in the second half… one more than their counterpart in the half.
They looked shaky towards the end of the first half and in the early stages of the second half. But they showed what strong stuff they’re made of by recovering well.
An ambitious team this Rangers side, they want to win the league title. And they played like it. They smell blood and are going in for the kill. Watch out Wikki Tourist!
— EDAFE MATT ESEOGHENE (@ELEGBETE1) July 16, 2016
– A Fixture of Beautiful Goals
The NPFL has gone way past the days where players just scored goals. These days, the players play CONFIDENTLY and score BEAUTIFULLY. And this game in Akwa Ibom was not left out.
Asides the simple tap in of an own goal that Harrison scored and Omoniwari’s second goal, the rest were beauties to behold.
Fortune Omoniwari equalized for Akwa United with a powerful header after a beautiful cross-in from Friday.
— Rotimi David (Papi) (@Rotdav) July 16, 2016
Then Egbuchulam scored the best goal of the day. Receiving a cross from his left, he controlled the ball with his right foot in the opposition’s 6-yard box. Deciding against shooting directly even though the goal-scoring chance was good enough, he switched play to his left foot, leaving the goalkeeper for dead and scoring an amazing goal.
Morris Chebem’s goal wasn’t as beautiful as the build-up to it. First a cross into the box (another cross?), then a chest-control of the ball by a Rangers player killed the momentum of the ball and placed it in fine position for a bullet shot from Morris who had just come on as a substitue.
— OJEIKERE (@ojeksaikhoje) July 16, 2016
– Akwa United Have Potential but…
… they seem to not know how to use it yet. (Or maybe I’m the one seeing things wrongly?) While chasing the equalizer in the dying minutes of the first half, they played LIKE A TEAM. The passes were perfect. The run-ins were deadly. The inter-changes were exceptional. Every move forward seemed to be accompanied by a potential goal. And in the end they got their goal.
In the second half, they started from where they stopped. They made the Rangers players quiver in fear. Their moves caused the Rangers defense to be “at sixes and sevens” according to the match commentator.
Then they slept off. They eased up on applying the pressure. And the rest is history. During this time, their midfield seemed to not provide enough cover for the defense and was not productive going forward. Names like Omoniwari and Friday were trying but the others weren’t helping.
Cooreman, coach of the Akwa Ibom side, needs to take note of this and make sure to bring his players to the awareness of the fact that a game is only won after 90 minutes (+ whatever minutes the ref decides to add on), not during a 10-minute long spell.
The Rangers coach (or technical advisor), Imama Amapakabo was the most animated of the two gaffers on the day. His glasses reminded me of Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp. His acting too. Though his armless top made him look like he was heading to war. He looked fierce. Even after his team scored 3 goals, he wanted more!
He may have taken things too far with his “passion” as he was seen yelling at the fourth official while trying to express himself. There seemed to be some pushing too!
No matter how passionate you are, player or coach, I think the referee SHOULD BE RESPECTED! Football is a contact sport and a game of emotions, I know, but the “RESPECT” has to be respected (pun intended)
A side that can score three in an away game in the NPFL should be taken seriously. A team that wants to win the league, scores three goals in an away game and takes all three points home should be taken EVEN MORE SERIOUSLY!
Rangers International mean business. They want Enyimba’s trophy. Beware!
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn