MFM FC’s search for a first-ever win over Enyimba continues after both teams played out to a one all draw in Lagos in a top of the table clash in Group A while El Kanemi Warriors claimed sole ownership of the top spot in Group B after bringing Akwa United’s seven-game unbeaten run to a devastating end in the other top of the table clash on Match Day 13 in the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Sunday.
“Enyimba will fall” MFM’s gaffer Fidelis Illechukwu boasted on the eve of the much-anticipated clash between the first and second placed teams in Group A while his counterpart Usman Abd’Allah begged to disagree declaring that his side, Enyimba, would leave with a point at least.
The verbal jousting between both managers in the lead up to the game only added to the sense of tension around the game with many expecting a blood and thunder encounter between the sides who were only separated by three points at the top of Group A.
What followed, however, was a damp squib of a first half that left spectators distinctly underwhelmed at a scorching hot Agege Township Stadium where Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr was in attendance.
The home side could have had a penalty when Chijioke Akuneto went down in the box under the close attention of Enyimba captain Ifeanyi Anaemena while Joseph Osadiaye wasted a good opportunity on the counter for the hosts in a desperately dire first half.
The second half, however, was a much better affair as Enyimba took the lead three minutes into the restart through the in-form Bashir Abdulrahman. MFM responded eight minutes later through a fierce rasping strike by Akuneto although Stanley Nwabali in goal for the Peoples Elephant would feel he should have done better.
The home side had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down in added time when a goal-bound shot appeared to cannon off the hand of an Enyimba defender in the box with proceedings ending one goal apiece. MFM maintain their three points lead over the Aba-based side who remain in second place on 20 points.
Junior Osaghae and Adimorama Eze scored in the second half to hand Bendel Insurance a 2-0 victory over Wikki Tourists at the UNIBEN Sports Complex in Benin, while at the Bako Kontagora Stadium in Minna, the tie between Niger Tornadoes and Enugu Rangers ended in a scoreless draw.
Rangers are now unbeaten in six league games and stay third in Group B with 17 points and 5 games in hand on the top two who have both played 13 matches apiece.
Katsina United dispatched Lobi Stars 2-0 at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium courtesy of strikes from Tasiu Lawal and Bashir Sheriff either side half time while Sunshine Stars edged out Kwara United 1-0 in Osogbo in what was a bad-tempered affair that saw Sunday Abe sent off for the hosts with Andrew Ikefe and Ajibola Otegbeye receiving early baths for the visitors.
At the Gateway Stadium in Sagamu, Remo Stars slipped into deeper trouble following a 0-1 loss at home to Rivers United who bounced back from a first home loss in Match Day 12. Remo who sacked Fatai Osho and appointed 2017 NPFL winning coach Kennedy Boboye at the start of the season were hammered 5-2 by Rangers in Enugu last time out and have now fallen to eleventh in Group A.
El Kanemi Warriors well and truly halted the seven games unbeaten run of Group B rivals Akwa United as they followed up an impressive away win at Gombe United with a 4-1 drubbing of the visitors at the El Kanemi Sports Stadium. Both teams had shared top spot in Group B with 22 points apiece although Akwa had the superior goals difference and victory for either side would have seen them claim sole ownership of top spot.
Warriors had beaten Akwa in the reverse fixture in Uyo in the very first match of the season and continued from where they left off when Kabir Balogun put them ahead in the 32nd minute. The floodgates opened in the second half with Sani Abbani, Sunday Anthony and a penalty by Bello Kofarmata consigning The Promise Keepers to a first defeat after eight games. Godspower Aniefok scored Akwa’s lone goal.
In Okigwe, Heartland FC beat Kano Pillars to bring a halt to a winless streak that had stretched for six games. Godwin Okoko Emmanuel opened the scoring for the hosts with Rabiu Ali restoring parity for Pillars in the first half. The hosts were further ahead in the first half after Chukwudi Nwaodu’s effort rebounded off the crossbar and ricocheted into the net off the head of Pillars’ goalie Ibrahim Idrissu.
At the Pantami Stadium in Gombe, there was to be no new manager bounce for Yobe Desert Stars as they succumbed to a 1-0 loss to home side Gombe United in a bottom of the table clash. Success Emmanuel scored in the 15th minute for the home side and Desert Stars who confirmed Taiye Yusuf as permanent manager after sacking Ngozi Elechi are still rock bottom of Group B.
Nasarawa United claimed a fantastic 1-0 victory away at Abia Warriors with Ibrahim Sunusi on target for the visitors while home sides FC Ifeanyiubah for whom Uche Ihuarulam scored and Delta Force in their first game since taking over Kada City’s slot in the league, both earned 1-0 victories over Plateau United and Go Round FC respectively. Bala Zakka scored the winner from the spot for Delta Force.
2018/2019 NPFL MATCH DAY 13 RESULTS
MFM 1-1 Enyimba
(Chijioke Akuneto 56’, – Abdulrahman Bashir 48′)
KATSINA UNITED 2-0 LOBI STARS
(Tasiu Lawal 18′, Bashir Sheriff 85′)
REMO STARS 0-1 RIVERS UNITED
(Justice Charles 70′)
BENDEL INSURANCE 2-0 WIKKI TOURISTS
(Junior Osaghae 65′, Adimorama Eze 70′)
NIGER TORNADOES 0-0 ENUGU RANGERS
SUNSHINE STARS 1-0 KWARA UNITED
(Michael Egbeta 60′)
EL KANEMI 4-1 AKWA UNITED
(Kabir Balogun 32′, Sani Abbani 69′, Sunday Anthony 82′, Bello Kofarmata 90+7′ (pen) – Godspower Aniefiok 78′)
HEARTLAND FC 2-1 KANO PILLARS
(Godwin Okoko 12′, Ibrahim Idrissu 40′ (OG) – Rabiu Ali 22′)
GOMBE UNITED 1-0 YOBE DESERT STARS
(Success Emmanuel 15′)
FC IFEANYIUBAH 1-0 PLATEAU UNITED
(Uche Ihuarulam 76′)
ABIA WARRIORS 0-1 NASARAWA UNITED
(Sunusi Ibrahim 75′)