By Tony Ademodi

Abia Warriors kicked off their 2023/24 NPFL season with a 1-0 win against Niger Tornadoes at the Umuahia Township Stadium on Saturday.

The game started with Abia Warriors pushing for an early goal in the third minute after Sunday Megwo came close to scoring with his strike going inches off the post.

In the 13th minute, Niger Tornadoes came close to opening scoring as Musa Najare’s 20-yard shot was parried away by Abia Warriors goalkeeper Sunday Mmecha.

The 20th minute saw Niger Tornadoes settle into the game after much pressure from the home team with Sylvester Bell combining well with Sadiq Isyaka by interchanging passes, but Clinton Jafla’s shot at goal at the end of the attacking move was saved by Abia Warriors goalkeeper.

In the 27th minute, Abia Warriors’ Augustine Njoku made a run through the right flank and whipped in a cross into the opponents’ box, but the cross was headed off target by his teammate Deinde Ibrahim.

Niger Tornadoes had their goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo, who happens to be a former Abia Warriors custodian, to thank denying his former employers from breaking the deadlock three times. Enaholo pulled off three big saves in the 33rd, 41st and 45th minutes as the game went into half-time goalless.

The second half started with Niger Tornadoes coming close to scoring in the 49th minute. Sadiq Isyaka found his way close to Abia Warriors’ box courtesy of a pass from Ifeanyi Okoye, but the former’s attempt at goal was saved by the impressive Abia Warriors goalkeeper Mmecha.

Abia Warriors head coach Erasmus Onuh sensing danger, introduced John Peter and Adejoh Ojonugwa for Emmanuel Obi and Uche Moses in an attacking tactics with the home missing chances of scoring in the 65th, 69th and 72nd minutes.

Niger Tornadoes also made a tactical change as coach Hamza Abara, introduced Mohammed Hussani for Innocent John Awori which also saw the “Ikoh Allah” boys switching formation from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, but weren’t clinical in front of goal when the opportunity came their way.

Onuh watching the clock tick down had to substitute an already tired Sunday Megwo for Obi Samson in the 78th minute.

With just about a minute after the substitution, Obi dribbled his way close to the opponents’ box and provided an assist with his first touch of the game for John Peter to score in the 79th minute. Abia Warriors held on to claim the full points on the opening day of the season.


ERASMUS ONUH: “We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game considering the fact that it is the first game of the season. I give credit to my players because they stood firm and got the goal when it mattered most. Niger Tornadoes really set up their team very well too and more so that their coach Hamza Abara worked with me some years back in Minna, so he knows my tactics as well, but I am happy we got the desired result and look forward to our next game.”

HAMZA ABARA: “We gave everything in the game and should have gotten a result here in Umuahia, but we conceded late in the game due to lack of concentration, but these are the areas we would go back home and work on technically and hope to keep improving as the season goes on.”


Abia Warriors 1-0 Niger Tornadoes

Goalscorer: John Peter 79’

Corner kick: 9-4

Fouls: 7-12

Saves: 5-7

Shots off target: 5-3

Shots on Target: 4-2

Yellow Cards: 1-1

Red Cards: 0-0

Free kicks: 8-5

MAN OF THE MATCH: Joshua Enaholo (Niger Tornadoes)

David NPFL
September 30, 2023
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