2017 Aiteo Cup Champions, Akwa United recorded their first victory in the 2019 abridged Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) under new coach, Rafael Everton.
The Brazilian gaffer expressed delight after second-half goals from Lolo, Ndifreke Effiong and Ubong Friday condemned GoRound FC to a 3-0 loss at the Nest of Champions.
“I am very happy for the players. The purpose that we came with was to pressure the opponent and to score goals. After four matches [without victory], it’s good that the winning mentality comes in. Congratulations to my players.” Everton said.
The necessity of victory was salient for Everton’s lads after the Club’s Chairman, Elder Paul Bassey had tongue-lashed the players and coaching crew, coming back from a 2-0 loss to Nassarawa United in Lafia.
Having secured only two points from three matches in front of home fans, the two times FA Cup winners had a single option – a win to maintain their status as an NPFL side.
Rafael Everton made five changes from the side that lost during the midweek away at Nassarawa. Goal Keeper Jean Efala returned in place of Ojo Olunreleke whose season has been marked by two outstanding blunders – one against El-Kanemi, the other at Lafia.
Jamiu Alimi was replaced by Wilson Elu while the trio of Oshaniwa, Ubong Essien and Emeka Atuloma were all out of the starting lineup as Christopher Lolo, Ndifreke Effiong and Ubong Friday got Everton’s nod.
While Go Round FC controlled proceedings from the blast of the whistle, it seemed the Promise Keepers were up for another dismal performance until the 40th minute when Alberico da Silva’s effort went wide. Shortly after, Ubong Friday was quickly released by Ndifreke Effiong but the forward’s chip went an inch over the bar as fans roared.
Flurries of counter-attacking efforts were yet again not converted. Mfon Udoh and Ndifreke Effiong the culprits this time before the Referee signalled the end of the first half.
Akwa kept their legs on the pedals as two quick goals in the 47th and 53rd minutes from Christopher Lolo and Ndifreke Effiong gave the home side sign of a much-anticipated turnaround.
Lolo opened scoring with a fine shot after a chest control from a clearance as Ndifreke Effioing doubled the lead after two minutes when former Enyimba Captain, Mfon Udoh squared the ball pass the inrushing goalkeeper, Godwin Dede.
The game became beyond the reach of the visitors as stand-in Captain of the home side, Ubong Friday tripled the lead with a fine chip thanks to Mfon Udoh who set up the former for his first goal of the season.
“I thank God for the goal in 2019. I think more goals will come. You will see a better game from Akwa United this season. Thank God the winning mentality is here now and we’ll do more to score more goals,” the stand-in captain promised.
Oshaniwa was brought in to replace Togolese defender Kodjovi Dadzie, having been booked. Teenage sensation, Ubong Essien came on to replace Lolo while Barnabas Imenga Jnr replaced Alberico as the final substitution shortly.
The fans cheered the players off the pitch as Everton headed for the dugout in great relief. The Promise Keepers moved two places up from the bottom of Group B with 5 points from 5 matches.
Akwa United travel about 900km up north to face Yobe Desert Stars on Sunday in a Matchday 7 fixture.