Ever since Akwa United’s promotion to the elite Nigerian Professional League eleven years ago, squaring up victoriously against El-Kanemi Warriors has never been a worry in front of home fans except for a lone goal draw against the Warriors in 2015.
Just after unveiling 12 new players for the 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season including the likes of Mfon Udoh, record league goal scorer and 2013 AFCON winner Juwon Oshaniwa, bookmakers had tipped the game in favour of the 2017 Aiteo Cup champions.
In the first half of the cagey contest, both teams struggled to settle into the game. Akwa United were gifted the first chance of the match when Mfon Udoh’s curler went wide of Goalkeeper Itodo Akor’s post.
The second chance came again from a familiar source, this time Mfon Udoh innocently flooring Innocent Gabriel, before sending a cross into the box for Alberico but the Brazilian couldn’t control his overhead kick as it went over the bar.
At the other end, El-Kanemi Warriors had their first chance of the game following a counter-attack when youngster Sunday Anthony could only guide his free header onto the woodwork with United’s Olorunleke watching.
The Promise Keepers enjoyed majority of the ball possession for the first half before Centre Referee Abdullahi called for halftime.
After the restart, the home side came out firing on all cylinders with chances from Mfon Udoh, Dennis Nya, all gone begging. Akwa United found the back of the net in the 52nd minute when Michael Ibe’s header went beyond Itodo Akor but linesman Saleh had already flagged Ndifreke Effiong offside.
It was an unlucky day for the Uyo-based side as they could not find a goal despite enjoying a huge percentage of possession.
The hosts were stunned in the 94th minute by the visitors when substitute Ba’akaka Azikoro scored with a left-footed strike after onrushing Goalkeeper Ojo was robbed of possession outside the centre circle. Akwa United travel to face Kano Pillars next week leaving Coach Everton in search of his first competitive win since joining the Promise Keepers.