One of the surprises that came with matchday one upon resumption of the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season was El-Kanemi Warrior’s win over pre-season title contenders Akwa United in Uyo.
While most pundits believe the result was down to Akwa’s inefficiency when attacking, it could also be as a result of Warriors’ game plan.
The man at the helm of affairs for the Warriors, Mohammad Usman Babaganaru is not a strange name in the league.
Having won the league before with Kano Pillars, coached other league teams, most recently Yobe Desert Stars, he is a big name to reckon with when it comes to coaching in the country.
In a post-match interview, Babaganaru attributed the win to hard work and God’s favour.
“First of all, we have to thank God for everything. Akwa is a team that I know very well. I know the quality of the coach that just left, they love to play so much passes and always retain possession of the ball.
“That is why we came with a game plan, always stayed behind the ball and use counter-attack. Thank God we used the tactics and we achieved our aim,” he explained.
Prior to the match, the Warriors were not given a chance in this game on paper as the bookmakers all favoured the promise keepers for an easy win. But it wasn’t a stroll in the park for the Uyo based side as Babaganaru had other ideas.
When asked on how he pulled off the win, he said: “We made some tactical changes. If you look at it, in the second half, when I found out that the attackers where applying more pressure, I decided to bring in a player with defensive qualities to soak up the pressure and one young boy [the goal scorer] and I asked him not to come back no matter what and not to stay behind the defense line of Akwa.
“We studied the tactics of Akwa and decided to apply the ‘safety first’ approach and that is how we got there.”
El-Kanemi Warriors will hope to continue in startling form when they face a daunting task in Babaganaru’s former side, Kano Pillars later today in a midweek Matchday 2 encounter in Maiduguri.