A brilliant first half performance saw Enyimba triumph 2-1 against Kano Pillars in the NPFL Grand Classic match on Sunday and consequently end the Sai Masu Gida’s unbeaten start to the season.
Both teams went into the MatchDay 5 game decided at the Enyimba Stadium, Aba in contrasting form but it was the People’s Elephant that showed the greater hunger and were rewarded with well-taken goals by wingers Anayo Iwuala 21′ and Gabriel Orok 38′.
They however removed their feet off the pedal in the second half and allowed Pillars a consolation through left back Fahad Usman who curled home a brilliant free kick four minutes from time.
Enyimba head coach Fatai Osho made nine changes to his team that were humiliated 0-2 by Heartland at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri last Wednesday and he got a good response from his wards on Sunday.
Osho was impressed with his players’ response.
“We knew we didn’t do quite well in Owerri and we came back, we were honest with ourselves and looked at those things that gave us problems and you can see a complete transformation today.
“I’m highly impressed with the attitude of the players, the aggression was there and the coordination. That’s where we thrive and for some time we’ve not been doing that,” Osho told www.npfl.ng after the game.
Pillars, led by Lionel Soccoia suffered their first defeat of the season after a run of four matches without defeat. His side had their chances as well but were twice denied by Enyimba’s debutant goalkeeper John Noble in the first half before Usman’s late goal which proved inconsequential to the result.
The Frenchman’s attempt to turn things around with a triple change at half time which included yanking off the legendary Rabiu Ali did not yield much dividends as he admitted that the tempo of the first half took his side aback.
“My players were very tired after the first half. You know they played 90 minutes last Sunday and Wednesday so normally you know it can be difficult to play good 90 minutes every time,” began Soccoia to www.npfl.ng
“We had more of the football in the second half and played very well but we lost eventually, it is football and such happens,” he added.
Kano Pillars’ next game is a home tie against Rivers United next weekend while Enyimba will prosecute back-to-back away games starting from their rescheduled Match Day 2 encounter against Kwara United on Wednesday before proceeding to Gombe to face Adamawa United.
1. John Noble 22. Stephen Manyo 29. Imo Obot 4. Anthony Omaka 24. Nelson Ogbonnaya 5. Hassan Abubakar 19. Gabriel Orok (Martins Usule 28. Dayo Ojo (Cyril Olisema 89′) 14. Samad Kadiri (Samson Obi) 16. Phillip Ozor 11. Anayo Iwuala
12. Olufemi Kayode 6. Nabil Yarou 7. Samson Obi 9. Martins Usule 20. Cyril Olisema 30. Oluwadamilare Olatunji 33. Somiari Alalibo
BOOKED: John Noble, Stephen Manyo, Anayo Iwuala
GOALS: Anayo Iwuala 21′, Gabriel Orok 38′
Kano Pillars XI
1. Ibrahim Idrissu 27. Victor Dennis 30. Fahad Usman 5. Abdullahi Musa 2. Ndasi Denis Kadiang 17. Auwalu Ali Malam (Usman Babalolo 80′) 4. Chinedu Ike (Munkaila Musa 46′) 10. Rabiu Ali (Bright Silas 46′) 31. Yusuf Bala Maigoro 28. Nyima Nwagua
24. David Ebuka (Abbas Rabi’u 46′)
23. Suraj Ayeleso 8. Mustapha Salisu
13. Usman Babalola 3. Nasiru Sani
38. Umar Hassan 14. Emmanuel Anyanwu
BOOKED: Chinedu Ike, David Ebuka
GOAL: Fahad Usman 86′