The Nigeria Professional Football League returned on Matchday 3 with fans, pundits, football lovers all setting sights on the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano.
4 times league champions Kano Pillars played hosts to two-time federation cup winners, Akwa United. It was a clash of heavyweights which was characterized by an end to end affair with both teams throwing chances away. In the end, all the tie could produce was a stalemate.
New boy Ndifreke Effiong opened the scoring in the 19th minute for ‘The Promise Keepers’ while Chris Madaki leveled for the ‘Sai Masu Gida’.
Brazilian coach Rafael Everton secured his first point for ‘The Promise Keepers’ and could not hide his delight on the day. Putting away the shock home loss on matchday one to earn a point in Kano, is a stride worthy to mention.
“Today’s match was indeed a difficult one. We know Kano Pillars is a big team in the league and we have great respect for them, but we came here with one purpose, to collect points here in Kano. We had one week for training and we trained good together to ensure the boys understand the pattern.
“We changed our tactics from the first game where we played a 4-4-2 formation, and today we played 3-6-1. The players understood this and I’m very happy with them,” Everton said in a post-match chat with newsmen.
The Brazilian made five changes to the team that lost at home to El-Kanemi Warriors.
Goalkeeper Ojo Olorunleke was relegated to the bench after his mistake in the previous game but the coach was quick to mention that he didn’t change players because they underperformed in the previous game.
“I didn’t change five players because they didn’t do a good job. I changed players based on the tactics needed for a particular game. I changed the goalkeeper, not because he made a mistake in the last game, but because I want him to sit down and think. Sometimes in football, you need to sit down to reflect on and think about decisions you made in previous matches,” Everton said in staggered English.
Young star Etboy Akpan was preferred over Wilson Elu on the right side of a six-man midfield.
Togolese, Kodjovi Dadzie was handed his first start of the season alongside Ivorian center-back Adou Blaise. Cameroonian international Jean Efala started in goal while another young star Ubong Essien replaced Michael Ibe.
The gaffer expressed his joy with the additions and he had this to say about them, “I am very happy with the five players introduced today. I have a team of 35 players and each player earns a chance to play when I feel he is ready because they all take the training seriously.
“I’m very happy with the five of them because I always tell my players to always be ready to take their chances when given. The new additions today gave a good account of themselves and earned a point for it”.
Akwa United return home to prepare for a midweek date with former champions Plateau United now coached by their former manager Abdu Maikaba.
Coach Everton is still on his search of a first win with the Uyo outfit and he has barely two days to make sure his new tactics sink in.