Though the performance of Lobi Stars FC yesterday 29th December 2019 in Uyo was lower than usual, the centre Referee Kassim Abdulsalam from Zamfara for The NPFL Match No 107 Day 11 in similar circumstances reproduced his controversial decisions that were responsible for Lobi Stars defeat against Plateau United in the matchday 1 in Jos. He thus superintended over Lobi Stars first and second defeat in the league.
The game kicked off the foot of Lobi Stars Samad Kadiri at exactly 4PM local time on a sound note and Lobi Stars started very well as Abdulkareem ran down the left side and dazzle RFB Efboy Akpan of Akwa United and put on for Tamara Ezekiel who placed a cross that was checked by Goal keeper Jean Efala for the first save.
In the 6th minute of play, Adeleye Aniyikaye who have been the most effective defender for Lobi Stars blocked a free kick shot from Akwa in to throw in. Captain Raphael Ayagwa saved saved a dangerous move from Akwa United, arising from an overlooked foul play.
Lobi Stars launched back with daring incursions with quality display of football artistry by Abdulkareem Mumini, Chinedu Udeagha, Samad Kadiri and Ezekiel Tamara to the admiration and delight of the Uyo fans. The search for an early goal didn’t materialize.
17 minutes changed the tempo as Akwa moved into Lobi Stars defence and serially lost two scoring chances. The momentary pressure continued against Lobi Stars as another set up for Aniekeme Asuquo of Akwa was technically blocked out by Ayagwa’s experience.
The right defence of Lobi Stars felt the absence of John Lazarus as the Akwa United breakthrough their left side over and over again but for the thorough defensive efforts of Adeleye and the safe hands of Moses Ocheje, the first half remained a clean sheet.
In 28th minute, Samad Kadiri capitalizes on an Akwa United defensive error and was headed for a goal but the Centre Referee stopped him to attend to his teammate Abdulkareem Mumini who was on the ground.
31 minutes of play saw another systematic buildup from Moses Bunde, Tamara Ezekiel, Abdulkareem Mumini but Bunde’s long drop ended up out of reach of the finishing line of his forward teammates.
4 minutes later, Akwa United got a freekick that was thunderously powered by Akwa United but goalkeeper Moses Ocheje saved the shot at goal, a quick reverse gave Lobi Stars a chance but Ayagwa Raphael’s shot went over the crossbar.
Another tactical build up in 43rd minute by Nzube, Tamara and Kadiri got an opening for Lobi Stars but was blocked in to corner kick by Akwa United Denis Nya. A 45th minute application of fair play by Ebube Duru as he saw his team mate Nzube Anaezemba on the ground was restarted unfairly by the referee.
45+2, Referee Kassim Abdulsalam from Zamfara sounded the whistle for end of first half. Scoreline Akwa United 0-0 Lobi Stars.
Five minutes into the second half a controversial penalty was awarded against Lobi Stars when an Akwa United forward player lifted the ball in the well-positioned hands of a Lobi Stars defender clearly without intention to handle the ball, contravening the modified ball handling law that favoured the defender, that there must be a clear intention before a defender will be penalized for ball handling in the penalty area as opposed to an attacking player. Goalkeeper Moses Ocheje saved the penalty but the scramble persisted as the Lobi Stars defence was not reactive enough to save the goal and Orok Akarandut finally tuck the ball inside the net for Akwa United for the only goal of the match. 51 minutes Akwa United 1-0 Lobi Stars.
Austin Ogunye took over from Nzube Anaezemba in the 57th minute. Lobi Stars got a corner kick a minute later, a short corner kick was taken by Ebube Duru to Chinedu whose attempted shot at goal was blocked into a second corner kick but was saved by Akwa defence.
In the 60th-minute wonder boy and former NNL highest goal scorer, Abdulkareem Mumini of Lobi Stars was brought down in the penalty area in what obviously looked a clear and better penalty offence but the referee in his madeup mind overlooked the offence.
Austin Ogunye went for a harmless tackle but the referee blew for foul and issued Ogunye a yellow card and award a free-kick for Akwa United. The resultant free-kick was harmless , Adeleye Aniyikaye’s experience came to bear as he anticipatively blocked out the Akwa United forward player and also gain a throw-in from what ordinarily had looked a dangerous move.
Monsuru Bashiru took over from a less fancied Bunde Moses in the 61st minute but couldn’t prove a better replacement, Anumudu Ezechukwu took over from Ebube Duru who was taken out on the stretcher in the 71st minute and was receiving medical attention.
Lobi Stars reacted to the goal and mounted late pressure on Akwa United but two sequential efforts by Abdulkareem Mumini in the 80 and 84th minute were saved and lost respectively. The first was a blocked shot at goal and the second was a face to face chance the was kicked over the bar.
86 minutes of play, Abdulkareem Mumini passed the ball to Samad Kadiri in Lobi Stars last efforts to equalise but Kadiri’s quick shot was not strong enough to beat goalkeeper Jean Efala of Akwa United. The referee sounded the whistle at 90+3 for the end of the game as his controversial decisions aided the break of Lobi Stars 8 games unbeaten run.
In another development, top contenders for the title against Lobi Stars Plateau United lost 3-0 in the hands of Abia Warriors in Umuahia as Lobi Stars despite the lose in Uyo still maintained a comfortable second place with an outstanding home game against Rangers Int’l that will catapult them to the first place.
Lobi Stars will be going home to re-strategize and vent on the visiting Sunshine FC Akure on the 5th January, 2020 inside the main bowl of the Aper Aku Stadium in matchday 12.
Results of Match Day 11 at a glance;
*Akwa Utd 1-0 Lobi*
Orok Akarandut 51′
*Sunshine Stars 1-1 Dakkada*
Fuad Ekelojuoti 90+5’ – Femi Ajayi 42’
*Katsina Utd 3-2 Jigawa GS*
Tasiu Lawal 15’, 70’, Lukman Muhammed 27’ – Mannir Ubale 21’ (PEN), Ali Maro Kalla 40’
*FC Ifeanyiubah 1-0 Heartland*
Samuel Kalu 21’
*Abia Warriors 3-0 Plateau Utd*
Emmanuel Ugwuka 28’, Guy Keumian 82’, Bello Lukman 87’
*Wolves 2-1 Kwara Utd*
Sunday Williams 38’, Efe Yarhere 52’ – Alao Danbani 58’
*Adamawa Utd 0-2 Rivers Utd*
Junior Osaghae 22’, Malachi Ohawume 86’