Kogi United Football Club overcame a resilient Jigawa Golden Stars 1-0 on Saturday at the Lokoja Confluence Stadium to record their first maximum points of the Ongoing Nigeria National League Season.
A Nuhu Daniel’s goal in the 34th minute from Tijani Umar’s assist was all Kogi United needed to record their first victory of the season and comfortably climb the ladder.
Prior to the week 6 clash against former Nigeria Professional Football League side, Jigawa Golden Stars, Kogi United has played 4 matches and drew all 4 and sitting in 8th position on the table.
Coach Folabi Ojekunle of Kogi United effected some changes to the Squad that held Nigeria Army Side, Green Beret FC of Zaria to a goalless draw midweek, starting Mudasir Nurudeen in goal ahead of Salisu Ogbe.
Defence strongman, Oladapo Olatunde returned ahead of Atoe Emmanuel while the likes of Abdullahi Alfa Salihu, Omolabi Owolabi and Nuhu Daniel were favoured in the starting lineup.
Both teams showed class in the early minutes of the encounter with occasional flashes upfront. Kogi United who knew that anything short of victory on Saturday will not be favourable to them got their acts together while the visitors, who were armed with their NPFL experience also needed the Maximum points to keep the heat on Group A2 table-toppers DMD.
Both teams had several goal-scoring opportunities in the first half but it was the home side who went ahead after utilizing the chance that came their way in the 34th minute.
The home side would have doubled their lead in the 42nd Minute through Tijani Umar when he had just Muktar Ibrahim alone to contend with but he played straight into the waiting arms of the Jigawa goaltender.
The scoreline remained unchanged till the referee ended the first half.
The second half was full of activities as Jigawa continued their surge upfront looking for the leveller but the combined efforts of Oladapo Olatunde, Moses Kayode, Abdullahi Alfa Salihu and Omooloyi Opeyemi made sure that their threats are contained.
With time ticking away gradually, Kogi United Coach Folabi Ojekunle quickly made some daring changes to beef up his squad bringing in Sani Moriki and Umoru Omajagwu for Omolabi Owolabi and Tijani Umar.
Their introduction made some impact almost immediately but that didn’t deter Jigawa as they continued their push for a goal. Their efforts failed to yield anything as the hosts jealously held on to their lead.
Kogi United held on to their one-goal lead till the end when the Centre referee from Kaduna State brought the game to an end.
Speaking on the outcome of the match, Kogi United Coach, Folabi Ojekunle praised the performance of his boys against a very good side with Nigeria Premier League experience.
“It’s a hard-earned victory. We played a very good side armed with NPFL experience having been relegated just last season and from all indications most of their key players are still intact. I must commend the effort and performance of my boys. This is one of the most difficult matches we have played so far since the season kicked off. ”
“Our falling back in the second half was a game plan. Football has to be played the way it comes. We took the lead in the first half and it became obvious that we are not getting anything again. And so we had to do what we did just to keep our lead intact. Since we couldn’t get another goal, we shouldn’t also allow the one we have slip off ”
” I have good players in the team and it might also interest you to know that Nuhu Daniel who gave us that goal is just playing his first match for Kogi United. I noticed that we have a shooting problem in the team and he is one of the few good shooters who can change such situations and he did when he got that opportunity which earned us this vital point”
” I can say I’m a little bit relieved with this victory, especially going into the next game which is another crunch tie at JM liberty in Makurdi. Hopefully, something positive will come from these “