The 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football league (NPFL) season got off to a flying start for Wikki Tourists with Idris Guda netting a second half winner to edge past Jigawa Golden Stars at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe on Sunday.
Last season Wikki Tourists escaped relegation and on the eve of this campaign their head coach Aliyu Zubairu left his role leaving the club with the option of elevating assistant coach Garba Ibrahim to an acting head coach capacity. On matchday, Garba included three new acquired players into his starting 11. Hassan Abubakar, Giwa Isaac and Sikiru Kamal were the new addition.
Jigawa Stars head coach Rabiu Tata presented a very youthful team except the experienced duo of former Nasarawa United striker Samuel Agba and ex-Kano Pillars defender Papa Idris.
It was the visiting team that got their noses in front when Lala Abdullahi tapped in from close range following a spectacular low cross from Kingsley Innocent for the only goal of the first half. The host equalised via Saidu Abubakar just after the break with a strike from a rebound and the man of the moment captain fantastic Idris Guda scored an acrobatic volley to earn his team a victory on the opening day of the season.
The visitors mounted lots of pressure on their opponents in most of the action with the Dutse-based club front three of Lala Abdullahi, Samuel Agba and Kingsley Innocent the livelier of both teams’ attackers with massive support from the middle of the park led by Sale Ibrahim and Daddy Mailabari.
Five minutes after Wikki Tourists goalkeeper Ibrahim Pius denied Ibrahim Umar’s powerful header, the visitors got their well deserved lead via Lala Abdullahi. The versatile winger Kingsley Innocent did well to skip past his marker Giwa Isaac down the right flank before whipping in a low cross to a well-positioned Lala Abdullahi who smashed home from close range in the ninth minute.
The home spectators were in moment of shock and on 18 minutes, it could have been two-nil to Jigawa Stars when a well worked play saw Kingsley Innocent teed up Lala Abdullahi inside Wikki’s box. Wikki keeper Ibrahim Pius acted quickly to foil the chance with a big save.
The visitors remained resolute with their style of play and three minutes later they had a scoring chance with Lala Abdullahi’s cross fortunately reaching Agba whose effort from close range went wide.
Wikki Tourists responded for the first time on their ground after over 20 minutes of play. Manu Garba created space for himself by dribbling his way through a forest of legs but his final ball failed to beat Jigawa Stars goalkeeper Kenneth Christopher.
Saidu Abubakar also got himself in a decent scoring position for Wikki Tourists after good work from Hassan Musa but the striker fired his attempt way off target.
Dominant Jigawa Golden Stars could have doubled their lead heading to the locker room with just a minute to end the half. Agba’s power left-footed strike hit the sidenet.