Niger Tornadoes came from behind to beat FC IfeanyiUba 4-2 in the first leg of the AiteoCup semifinal at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja. Patrick Ikeokwu (6′) and King Osanga (52′) gave FCIU a two goal lead before Rabiu Mohammed Sani (61′, 71′), Babawo Ibrahim (63′) and Peter Momoh (82′) scored for the hosts. Here are five talking points from the game…
(1) BALA’S QUICK RESPONSE
Kudos must go to Tornadoes coach Abubakar Bala for responding promptly when his team went down early in the game. He pulled out injured Ebenezer Odeyemi for Rabiu Sani in the 30th minute and two minutes later, Peter Momoh came in for Yakubu Auta. Others could wait till half time to make the switch but he did it on the half hour mark. Those changes became the tonic for the resurgence as the two substitutes scored three of the goals. Alongside, Babawo Ibrahim, they formed a potent front three that sent goose pimples down the spines of FCIU defense. Momoh in the hole behind Ibrahim and Sani.
(2) OSANGA STILL HAS IT
Our first impression of King Osanga was as a wide player with the U17s in 2009. He has now modified his game and taken a more central role. He was at the center of most of the positives from FCIU grabbing an assist and scoring a contender for goal of the tournament.
(3) BABAWO DESERVES CHAN LOOK-IN
The biggest thorn on the flesh of FCIU was Babawo Ibrahim. He linked up with Momoh and Sani to torment the visitors nonstop helping himself to one of the goals. Shouldn’t be a bad idea if Salisu Yusuf gives him a look-in for the CHAN Eagles. He is a right footed version of Plateau United’s Peter Eneji, who shone at the WAFU Cup.
(4) PREKO CAME TO DEFEND
FCIU’s coach Yaw Preko came into the game planning to play on the counter. He chose to soak up the hosts’ forays while praying that his boys could catch the Andrew Ikefe and Reuben Ogbonnaya marshalled defense napping. The fact that Tornadoes had 12 corner-kicks against FCIU’s told much about the flow. FCIU had only two attempts all evening and those reflected on the scoreboard while Tornadoes had 14 attempts. The stats and scoreboard didn’t agree for the larger part of the game but it was only a matter of time. The pressure was so much on FCIU.
(5) ISAH STEPS INTO WASSA’S PLACE
One of the revelations of last season was left back Gabriel Wassa who donned Tornadoes colours. He linked up with Rivers United this season but in Husseini Isah, another marauding left back seems to have been unleashed by Tornadoes. He was such a force going forward and a major contributor as Tornadoes laid siege to cancel the two goal deficit. The presence of Ikefe, Ogbonnaya and Sunday Akinmoladun gave Isah the fillip to bomb forward.
(6) COULD EZENWA HAVE SAVED THE DAY?
National team keeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa was conspicuously missing on FCIU’s team list. Developments highlighted how useful he would have been. Drissa Bamba let Momoh’s speculative effort slip through his hands for the fourth goal forcing many to ponder what would have been if Ezenwa was in goal.
(7) FCIU WEAKENED BY SUSPENSIONS
FCIU filed out with a makeshift central defense pairing of Felix Osia and Wilson Elu when they could have called upon national team pair of Stephen Eze and Olamilekan Adeleye. But no thanks to suspension, the latter duo were unavailable. The defenders struggled to contain the riotous Tornadoes attackers. And were blown apart during those 21 minutes of Tornadoes’ ceaseless blitz letting in four goals. Those were moments the rear guard cried out for some organization. Some price to pay for being undisciplined.
By Clement Nwankpa Jr