2021 Aiteo Federation’s Cup runners-up, Nasarawa United, became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals at the ongoing Abuja Unity Cup Preseason Tournament.
The Solid Miners, on Wednesday morning, thrashed Fosla Academy by 3-0 in their last Group ‘A’ match decided at the FIFA Goal Project field located inside the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
Last season’s NPFL golden boot winner, Silas Nwankwo, headlined United’s routing of the stubborn Fosla Academy after scoring his first goal at the tournament in just two minutes into the highly anticipated game, with Tolulope Oluwole the architect of the assist.
At the half-hour mark, the former Sunshine Stars’ attacker turned from an assist provider to scorer, benefiting from a defensive frailty to head home United’s second goal, and his second goal in the tournament.
Coach Bala Nikyu was forced into effecting an early substitution after Silas Nwankwo picked up an hamstring injury, with former Warri Wolves’ hitman, Uche Ihuarulam, replacing him.
As the clock ticked toward the break, Fosla’s Allayi Haruna almost reduced the deficit but his towering header
went a few inches wide from the intended destination.
United, however, went into the break leading 2-0.
Shortly after resumption for the second-half, Mohammed Abdullahi called Goalkeeper, Godwin Ameh into an unbelievable acrobatic save, earning Fosla a corner kick.
The duo of substitutes, David Ehiaghe and Uche Ihuarulam all came closest to increasing United’s lead before the hour mark, only to squander their glorious opportunities.
But left full-back, Paul Odeh, struck a beautiful freekick in the 56th minute to hand the Lafia-based side a 3-0 cushion.
Though Fosla Academy were reduced to ten men in the 81st minute after Isa Danladi was sent off for dissent, the scoreline remained unchanged until regulation time, as United top the Group ‘A’ table with seven points from three games, and having eight goals advantage, followed by Cynosure FC who have five points, following their 5-1victory over Mavlon FC in the other Group game played at the Area 3 Football Pitch.
Nasarawa United will wait till tomorrow, Thursday, to ascertain their semi-finals opponents.
COACH ABUBAKAR ARIKYA(NAS): “Well, our boys played well, and I must say it was a great result.
“Though this a preseason tourney, but we are glad that the boys keep improving in each game.
“Platforms like this provide us the opportunity to assess our players as we prepare for the 2021/22 NPFL season.
“We work hard in order to get results, but any other thing that comes out of that becomes an act of God, which we can’t influence.”
COACH IGWE GILBERT(FOS): “It wasn’t a good game for us, but that’s what it entails.
“Our boys tried their best against a more experienced and physically fit side. We thought we could win all the group games, but now we have to accept what happened, and move on.”
SILAS NWANKWO (NAS): “Scoring goals makes me feel truly happy, and I am happy to have scored today.
“Last season, I repeatedly told my Club’s Media that I was going to score double digits goals, and I did, with the help of God and my teammates. Hopefully, I wish to replicate the same in the coming Season, and even surpass it, all things being equal.”