Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma has blamed his side’s 1-1 draw against table-toppers Akwa United on missed chances by his players, but refused to rule out the Pride of Rivers from the title race.
Red-hot Akwa United striker Charles Atshimene put the visitors in front in the 53rd minute – his 12th league goal of the season – after capitalizing on a defensive mix-up, but Bamba Bakari leveled for Eguma’s men with three minutes left to play, as both sides settled for a share of the spoils in a very heated Match Day 33 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clash.
The result could have easily gone the way of hosts Rivers United had they converted a plethora of scoring opportunities that came their way, and after the match the former Gabros coach was left to rue those missed chances, describing the result as ‘unfortunate’.
“It’s unfortunate,” Eguma told reporters after the match. “We prepared to win this game, but unfortunately we settled for 1-1 draw.
“I still thank God, at least, we did not lose the match, because we had to come from behind to equalise that goal. It was a difficult one.
“And I think that my players lost a lot of chances especially in the first half. We were very wasteful in front of goal.
“In the second half too, even before we scored that goal, the guy who scored the goal (Bakari) Bamba had already missed about three chances before then. So, it is very unfortunate.
“In fact, I will just say that today (Sunday) it ended that way. We accept the result in good faith, and we’ll forge ahead in the league.”
The result ensured the Port Harcourt side dropped from 3rd to 5th on the NPFL standings, with 56 points from 33 games, five points behind leaders Akwa United (61pts).
But the long-standing tactician, who guided the club (as Dolphins) to the league title a decade ago, maintains they are still in the title race.
Asked if the draw against Kennedy Boboye’s men ended his side’s title hopes, Eguma said: “No, the league is till on. It’s not over.
“In the past, we have drawn some matches at home, we still went forward to get to the position we are today. We are still very hopeful that if we drop points at home, we can get points away from home. It’s very possible, it’s the league, as far as they keep a level playing ground for us.”
Rivers United will on Wednesday continue their fading quest for the NPFL crown with a Match Day 34 encounter against relegation-threatened Jigawa Golden Stars in Kaduna.