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Moses Ugwu Igwe - The new kid of Tornadoes' heart

Niger Tornadoes shot up to second place in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) log with a slim win over MFM on Sunday at the Bako Kontagora Stadium in Minna.

The Matchday 19 fixture didn’t exactly set anything on fire but there were enough flakes for one to feast on from a sporting perspective.

Tornadoes looked a different side with Abara making a raft of changes to his line-up but that didn’t stop them from winning the game as they were able to get one over MFM.

In a game of few chances, here are four things we took away from the game that saw Niger Tornadoes extend the unbeaten in the league to nine games.

 Abara knows how to blood them in

Niger Tornadoes coach Hamza Abara has proven once again to be a grassroots man and scouting expert by unearthing a new wave of players for the ‘Ikon Allah.’

Abara, who recently won the League Bloggers Awards (LBA), has spent most of his career in grassroots football and he showed he still has it as he scouted the rookie Moses Ugwu, Yahaya Yusuf and Abubakar Ndayebo who scored Tornadoes only goal of the game albeit from the spot.

His ability to blood the youngsters in so early and give them responsibilities within the team has reinforced his stance on giving younger and unknown players a chance to crack it at the big time.

Ndayebo, Ugwu and Yusuf, who all started against MFM showed they could mix it with the big boys there justifying Abara’s confidence in them.

Going through Niger Tornadoes team list ahead of the game against MFM, a name popped out of the list – Moses Ugwu.

 

The name didn’t ring a bell but it wouldn’t stay longer than that after 90 minutes.

Plucked from non-league side Ijaya Rocks FC of Abuja, the midfielder announced his name in the league with a man-of-the-match performance against MFM.

One could barely believe this was his debut in the top flight and indeed any form of organised league football before Sunday’s game.

Ugwu played like a veteran and was able to conjure openings for the likes of Nyadepo and Yusuf to thrive on.

His confidence on the ball and deft touches drew applause from the crowd at the Bako Kontagora Stadium in Minna.

Ugwu did show a bit of youthful exuberance with some shimmies which drew the ire of his coach – something he can clean up as he gains experience.

He lasted the duration of the game and was mobbed after the game. A decent way to introduce yourself to the NPFL.

 

Depth is strength

The importance of squad depth cannot be overemphasized in any league in the world as Niger Tornadoes clashed with MFM showed on Sunday.

Even with a heap of players missing for one reason or the other, it did little to affect Tornadoes style of play or effectiveness.

There was no Ibrahim Babawo, Sunday Akinmoladun, Peter Momoh, Segun Alebiosu (now with Kwara United), Daniel Japhet, Uche Onwuasoanya, Ammar Abdulkarim while Bashar Usman started from the bench but it did nothing to slow them down.

Very few teams will miss almost seven players and still be in the thick of things at the top of the log.

Tornadoes have also fortified their team with the likes of Yahaya Yusuf, Jonathan Osondu and Moses Ugwu to signal their intentions. They have gone nine games unbeaten and haven’t conceded a goal in Minna since their return from Lokoja.

Expect to see Tornadoes battle for the league diadem when the run-in to the title heats up.

 

 

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