Abia Warriors boss Imama Amapakabo has suggested his team was able to stop Rivers United from winning at home for the first time this season because opposing manager Stanley Eguma’s “straight-jacket” way of playing was easy to neutralise.
Warriors held Rivers United at arm’s length for the duration of the NPFL matchday 22 on Sunday encounter and departed the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium with a share of the spoils having orchestrated a goalless stalemate.
It was the first dropped points for Rivers United in four games and the first time they have failed to win at home this season but Amapakabo said he was always confident of outwitting Eguma tactically because Rivers United have only one way of playing which was easy to preempt.
Having deconstructed Eguma’s one-trick pony side, Amapakabo revealed he told his players exactly what to expect in the lead up to the game and it turned out exactly as he envisaged although he acknowledged that goalkeeper Edafe Vincent was instrumental to their point.
“We knew for sure like I told my team, they’re a straight jacket team – they have one way to play and they can’t deviate from that play,” Amapakabo told reporters after the game.
“We knew from what they played in their last game when they won, that they had two very physical enough ball players in the middle. Their strength was going to come from the sides, in Aguda and Eso. We knew we had to keep them apart, and we knew that they were just going to force the ball, so we just had to keep our heads on our shoulders.
“We had to keep ourselves deeply, keep shape, keep formations, and we countered them. Arguably, I think you can say we had the best chance of the game. Predictably too, we knew that they were going to shoot from outside the box, and great game from [goalkeeper Edafe Vincent].
“Edafe was prepared for everything that was thrown at him.
“We prepared for them, we organised, our defence had to move, we had to keep shape, and not run anyhow out of positions. We knew that once we were able to keep our lines perfectly, we’d be able to get the result, because most teams are predictable, most teams are going to be playing the long balls down the middle there.”
With the draw, Abia Warriors climbed to 13th on 28 points, eleven points behind Rivers United who are fifth after 22 games.
Abia Warriors next play leaders Akwa United at home on matchday 23 of the 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League season.