By Fisayo Dairo
Never at any point in the game between Enyimba and Lobi Stars on Wednesday did Gbenga Ogunbote’s side look like they were going to lose to the champions. Such is their dedication of play and the attention paid to every little detail.
Apart from starting quite a number of former Enyimba players, the team of experienced league campaigners showed exactly why they have been so impregnable this season, claiming a result in their fourth consecutive away game.
The Pride of Benue seemed to be heading for an improbable win after Samad Kadiri’s 77th minute header but that joy was short lived when Victor Mbaoma responded with a header of his own three minutes later.
The result left Ogunbote with mixed feelings at the end.
“I think it’s a good point on the road but it depends on how we see it,” began the former Enyimba boss to www.npfl.ng
“It could be a point gained or two points lost. If we had managed the game, maybe we could have gone with the three points.
“Even in the first half, we would have wrapped up the game but we wasted some half chances so I think we were wasteful in some ways. When you are playing against a team like Enyimba, you don’t waste your chances,” added Ogunbote
The Ex-Factor Ogunbote who himself is a former Enyimba coach handed starts to five former players of the team including midfielders Nzube Anaezemba and Chinedu Udeagha who formed part of his four-man midfield on Wednesday.
The 2018 Nigeria Coach of the Year believes that his decision was justified in the end and pointed out that the pitch at the Enyimba Stadium provided his team the opportunity to do well with the ball.
“I think my decision to start with a midfield four and five former Enyimba players in total was justified at the end.
“One thing is certain; when you’re playing against your former team, you want to raise your game to let them know that they missed somebody. Otherwise if you play against your former team and you cannot do well, you should equally leave the team you are.
“It is a good pitch and when you play on a good pitch, I think you should be able to exhibit your skills otherwise the essence of the pitch is defeated. So I think making best advantage of the pitch is what we did,” Ogunbote added.
Longest current unbeaten run in the league
Since their opening day 1-3 loss at regional rivals and table toppers Plateau United, Ogunbote’s side are yet to record a loss in their seven games after then. This includes victories in all their home games as well as one against Kano Pillars in Kano.
Ogunbote credited his entire team set-up for the turnaround and hinted at his part in the run which has seen his side occupy third spot on the league log with one game (against Rangers in Makurdi) at hand.
“It has been a collective responsibility. When we lost the first game, it depends on how you see it, we were able to correct the errors we had in the first game and aside that, I gave them confidence.
“I told them that the best team in the world do lose games and it depends on how you see it, it is not a crime to fall but it becomes a crime if you fall and you refuse to identify why you fell and make amends,” Ogunbote philosophized.
Lobi Stars will host Katsina United in their next league game at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi on Sunday.