Abia Warriors attacking winger, Ibrahim Olawoyin could not hide his excitement following his team’s dominant display against Kano Pillars on Sunday at the Umuahia Township Stadium.
Although he failed to register his name in the scoresheet, the youngster’s dazzling runs and delightful crosses were a key component in the 3-0 victory that ensured NPFL safety for the Umuahia-based side.
“I feel very, very great. I really thank God for that,”
“It wasn’t easy because we had just few matches to go but we told ourselves, ‘yes, we can do it’ and I thank God everything ended very well.”
Pointing to the fact that their defeats away from home this season – save for the one against Kano Pillars – all ended with a 1-0 scoreline, with most of the goals coming in the latter stages of the game, Olawoyin admitted that Abia Warriors’ season was marred by inconsistent and unfavourable results, however, he still believes that “hard luck” also played a part in a frustrating 2019 campaign, that saw them flirting with or hovering around relegation for the most part of the season.
“What I actually feel is, we were playing well but we weren’t scoring goals. It’s hard luck,” he said.
On a personal level, the 18-year-old, who was signed from Nigeria National League (NNL) side Abia Comets at the start of the season, is of the opinion that he performed better in the second round, where he scored three goals; against Yobe Desert Stars, FC Ifeanyiubah and Heartland FC.
He did not score in the first round, but eventually emerged as one of the most consistent performers for Abia Warriors this season, his first ever season in the topflight. From the reign of Henry Makinwa to the return of Emmanuel Deutsch, the Osun state-born sensation started all but one of Abia Warriors’ 22 matches.
Olawoyin praised Deutsch’s huge inpact in the team’s survival race. After Makinwa resigned, leaving Abia Warriors in a precarious 11th position in the Group B table, the management of the club convinced Deutsch, who had left the Umuahia-based club last season following the expiration of his contract, to return with six matches left to play. The Cameroonian then spearheaded a turnaround for Abia Warriors as they lost only the first of those six games, which was against Gombe United, and went unbeaten afterwards.
“He really encouraged everybody,” Olawoyin revealed. “When he came back he was like, he is seeing us going for the Super-6, that we can do it. This was before his first match (in charge this season) against Gombe United. He told us to forget about relegation that we shouldn’t even look in that direction. We should look at going for the Super-6.”
Now that the league season has ended for Abia Warriors, Olawoyin, who is hoping that his performance in the NPFL will earn him a national team call up soon, also spoke of his team’s ambition to chase a continental ticket via the Federation Cup.
“With the form we have now, we are not even talking about this match (against Kano Pillars), we are already looking at the Federation Cup and yes, we are going all the way to the final to win the AITEO Cup,” he said.