By Fisayo Dairo
Auwalu Ali Malam’s 23rd minute goal ensured Kano Pillars defeated FC Ifeanyiubah 0-1 in a MatchDay 9 fixture decided at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt on Monday.
The midfielder’s free kick deflected beyond goalkeeper Sharp Uzoigwe and turned out to be the only goal of the game decided on a neutral ground because of television scheduling.
It was Ali Malam’s first goal of the season, not an impressive run so far for a player who scored eleven goals last season for the Sai Masu Gida side.
Both teams retained the same starting lineup that prosecuted their last league games; a home win for Pillars over Jigawa Golden Stars and a draw for FC Ifeanyiubah at Heartland in Owerri.
Monday’s win was Kano Pillars’ first away win of the season at the fifth attempt and they will now return to Kaduna to prepare for this weekend’s home tie against MFM.
Pillars’ Technical Adviser Lionel Soccoia was delighted with the win in spite of the prevailing circumstances.
“It’s a good result for us because FC IfeanyiUbah are a good team. A good team with young players that have good energy and gave us a tough time,” Soccoia told www.npfl.ng after the game.
“The quality dropped a bit in the second half because it is not easy for the players to have played that number of games within days. After Kaduna, you come back and go to Akwa, back to Kaduna and now here. The players will get tired easily.
“But I congratulate the players for the win because today was not easy at all but we won and we can prepare for the next game,” added the Frenchman.
FC IfeanyiUbah remain in the bottom four after Monday’s loss and have only won two out of their nine matches. Head coach Uche Okagbue was not a happy man after the game.
“The defeat is one of those things in football. But I must be sincere, the situation was not fair to us. It is just like Manchester United wanting to play at Old Trafford and you ask them to go and play at Manchester City,” said Okagbue in reference to his team playing as the home team in Port Harcourt, instead of their home ground in Nnewi.
FC IfeanyiUbah have now dropped eight points at home this season and will next face Adamawa United in a relegation six pointer at the Pantami Stadium, Gombe on Sunday.
FC Ifeanyiubah XI
21. Sharp E. Uzoigwe 26. Christian Molokwu 19. Evans Obonda 6. Abel James 35. Tochukwu Anuenyiagu 13. Patrick Egeonu 15. Saidu Adamu
27. Joy Adejare 9. Ezekiel Haastrop 10. Ekene Awazie 20. Uzochukwu Ifejiofor
22. Chigozie Akubuike 2. Eric Oguocha 5. Abdulrasheed Umar 11. Uche Onuoha 14. Samuel Salau 36. Samuel Matthew 38. Chinemerem Igboeli
Kano Pillars XI
1. Ibrahim Idrissu 27. Victor Dennis 30. Fahad Usman 31. Yusuf Bala Maigoro 14. Emmanuel Anyanwu 2. Ngweni Ndassi 17. Auwalu Ali Malam 16. Bright Silas 28. Nyima Nwagua Nyima 10. Rabi’u Ali 33. Abbas Rabi’u
12. Joshua Enaholo 3. Nasiru Sani 4. Chinedu Ike 6. Munkaila Musa 13. Usman Babalolo 18. David Nnaji 26. Sunday Chinedu 29. Ewenike Achibi 38. Umar Hassan