By Obinna Unaeze
Niger Tornadoes Football Club of Minna on Sunday defeated visiting Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) FC of Ilorin 2-0.
The match was in the ongoing 2020/2021 Nigeria National League (NNL) and was played at the Bako Kontagora Memorial Stadium in Minna.
Oche Joseph scored the two goals for his side through penalty kicks awarded by the referee in the first and second halfs of the game.
Joseph scored the first goal 32 minutes into the first half of the game after the ABS FC goalkeeper brought down a Niger Tornadoes striker while attempting to save the ball.
Niger Tornadoes’ second goal was scored by the same Joseph 11 minutes into the second half after a visiting ABS FC defender brought down a striker trying to score a goal.
The referee also awarded a penalty kick to ABS FC five minutes to the end of the match, after the Niger Tornadoes goalkeeper pulled down a striker.
Charles Eguavon however lost the penalty kick as Lucky Jimoh punched the ball out of the goalpost.
Reacting, Encho Anthony, Head Coach of ABS FC, said his players performed well but for the bad pitch and poor officiating.
Anthony, who decried the poor condition of the football pitch, said it contributed to the team’s loss.
“This pitch is not a standard pitch, it is just like a football field where children play street football.
“It will even be difficult to do a good training on this field. But here we are playing a league match on the pitch,” he said.
He therefore appealed to the state government to upgrade the pitch to a standard one as part of measures to develop the country’s football leagues.
The coach said another challenge his club had during the game was poor officiating as the referee denied his side a well-deserved penalty kick in the first half of the match.
“Honestly, it is demoralising when a referee is taking side in a league of this nature.
“There is still corruption in our league as long as we continue with this syndrome of any club playing at home must win at all cost,” he said.
Nuhu Babayo, the coach of Niger Tornadoes who hailed his players for winning the match, also decried their attitude of not adhering to instructions.
Babayo noted that ABS FC were a good side and as a result his players were careful on the pitch because they knew the consequences.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the match was moved to Sunday morning after it could not be played on Saturday evening.
This was as a result of the late arrival of the match’s officials. (NAN)