It is not often in the Nigeria Professional Football League you see an away side so disappointed despite getting a point at a difficult ground.
However, Akwa United coach Abdu Maikaba and his reliable defender Emmanuel Ariwa in separate chats to npfl.ng echoed each other’s disappointment at not getting the maximum points against Abia Warriors in a Matchday 30 fixture decided at the Umuahia Township Stadium on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s point ensured that the Promise Keepers retained their third spot on the league log – the final continental spot – with eight matchdays left to play although United have a game in hand against Rivers United next Wednesday.
“We came here to win. And we tried our best despite that it was difficult to play on the pitch but we tried to create some opportunities for ourselves but sometimes you don’t utilize your chances.
“But we thank God for the point because it helped us to consolidate our position on the log,” Maikaba told us after the encounter.
One of the ever-present stars in Maikaba’s team is centre-back Emmanuel Ariwachukwu who recently received a call-up to the CHAN Super Eagles team.
Ariwachukwu also expressed his disappointment but, like his manager was grateful for the point.
“Well, our gameplan was to come and win because we have a good team and winning here could have stabilized a lot of things for us. Nonetheless, we appreciate God for it. We aimed and fought for three points but we got one and we should be grateful for it,” the Akwa United defender said.
Maikaba’s wards have received rave reviews from league watchers in recent months for their attractive easy-on-the-eye and free-flowing football be it at their fanciful home ground in Uyo or on one of the most difficult of pitches in Sagamu.
Ariwachukwu admitted to npfl.ng that this is about the best he has had in his footballing career.
“My brother, I must confess this is one of the best team I have played with all these years,” Ariwa exclaimed.
“This team is wonderful with a crop of good players who are determined to win the league. And that is one key motivation for us as well.
“We want to win the league. This team is wonderful and we can go places,” said Ariwa, a former Niger Tornadoes defender who has also had a stint abroad.
Akwa United remain five points adrift of league leaders Plateau United and they host Nasarawa United in their next game on Sunday as they bid to cut the gap between them and the summit of the table.
Sunday’s visitors, Nasarawa United have won their last two games and coach Maikaba is not under any illusions as to the difficulty inherent in the game.
“No match is easy. All the games are difficult and Nasarawa are also a good side that also play good football but we will strategize to make sure we get the three points at stake,” he said.
Two of Akwa United’s CHAN Eagles invitees, Alhassan Ibrahim and Ariwachukwu limped off during Wednesday’s game in Umuahia and they face late fitness tests ahead of Sunday’s game. Ariwachukwu is however convinced his side will triumph.
“Nasarawa United should just come as part of their obligations of honouring the game. We are not ready to negotiate our three points with any team,” Ariwachukwu affirmed.
By Fisayo Dairo for lmcnpfl