Nasarawa United Swim Through Rivers To Reach AhlanCup Semis As Etebo Wins MOTM
Nasarawa United walked over tight rope Sunday to book a place in the semi-finals of the Ahlan Preseason Cup Tournament holding in Kano, bestchoicesports.com.ng.
The Lafia-based team had come into the encounter as underdogs following Rivers United’s elimination of Kano Pillars from the tournament Saturday, with pundits favouring the Port-Harcourt-based team to take the day at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kofar Mata.
Rivers United took the lead in the 56th minute in a tension-soaked game after Doumbia Zoumana located Fortune Omoniwari who expertly executed the pass from outside the 18-yard box.
Nasarawa United made some substitutions and the decision would pay off in the 77th minute as Abubakar Lawal benefited from substitute, Deneng Titos’ cut back to draw level at 1-1.
Both teams did all they could to find the back of the net, but the game ended 1-1 apiece, with Nasarawa United’s solid rock defender, Etebo Franklin, picking up the Man-of-the-Match award after his spectacular display.
During the penalty shootout that saw seven players from each team playing, Nasarawa United bundled Rivers United out of the tournament, 6-5, to book a place in the Semi-finals.
In his post-match interview, Nasarawa United Technical Adviser, Bala Nikyu, was full of encomiums for his wards:
“The match we played today was actually a good one. We were down by one goal, and it takes a team that has character, maturity and determination to fight back.
“It is not easy to come from behind against a team like Rivers United who beat Kano Pillars in their last game to level up and still won via penalty shootout, moreso that we are looking at how to maintain good fitness level ahead of the new league season, which is where our main focus is”, he told Nasarawa United Media Team.
Bala stressed that the team will approach every game according to its priority.
On Etebo’s Man-of-the-Match performance today, Bala Nikyu has this to say:
“It is a good development. Remember in our last group game against Katsina United, it was our goalkeeper, Danlami Umar, who scooped the award.
“Today, it was our defender, Etebo Franklin, who was on top of his game from start to finish. That shows there is constant improvement in the team.
“Such award is a proof that you are doing well. Both the keeper and defender did well in each of the games they emerged winners of the award, so, they deserved it, and I hope they get encouraged by it.”
In a related development, the award recipient, Etebo Franklin, expressed delight for being voted MOTM.
“I feel so elated because the hard work is paying off. Am glad we are making progress at this tournament and it is my hope that this tempo is sustained.
“It didn’t take my effort alone to win this award, but the collective commitment of everyone in the team”, the 1.82 metre tall former player of Vitosha Bistritsa of Bulgaria told Nasarawa United Media Team.
In the other quarter-finals game played at the Kano Pillars Stadium, giant killers, Jigawa Golden Stars, also eliminated pre-tournament favourites, Plateau United 5-4 on penalties after regulation time ended 1-1 apiece.
Semi-finals matches come up on Tuesday, 15th October, 2019, with the qualified teams yet to know their next opponents until after the completion of other matches billed for Monday, October 14th.