By Sam Oditah/ Umuahia
Abia Warriors FC ended the first round of the 2016/2017 league season on Wednesday with a historic 2-0 win over visiting Wikki Tourists FC of Bauchi at the Umuahia Township Stadium.
Wikki Tourists have always have had an upper hand since they made a comeback to the premier league, with an impressive record of three outright home and away wins and a draw against the Umuahia-based clubside.
The Abdullahi Biffo-tutored boys however changed the narrative on Wednesday with two unreplied goals.
Effiong Ndifereke gave the home side a lead at the 27th minute, when he netted the ball with a left footer, after the team had fluffed several glaring scoring chances.
The striker also converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute, after substitute Bahir Sheriff was brought down in the Wikki Tourists’ vital goal area.
A visibly-elated Biffo told journalists at the end of the match that he felt very great, saying, “We are happy and lucky to have run away with victory’’.
He described the victory as another feat for the club, adding that before the game, he encouraged the team to put the club’s past record with Wikki Tourists behind them and go for victory.
“I was made to understand that they had never defeated Wikki Tourists here previously, but I told them to forget about the record and change their mentality.
“I told them that this is a different ball game and that they should go all out to get a win’’ he recalled.
According to him, the goal margin would have been more if they were able to convert all their scoring chances.
Biffo took over the team on Feb. 20, following Okey Emordi’s resignation after three months of abysmal performance as Technical Adviser.
He attributed the team’s winning streak to “our collective determination to reposition the club’’ and achieve results.
Biffo said that the club may have to recruit new players to reinforce the team for better results in the second round of the season.
“If we see better players, we will recruit them to beef up the team, otherwise we will just make do with what we have.
“It means we have to change our mentality and philosophy to ensure that the team gives its best and that our best is good enough to give the club maximum victory,’’ the coach said.
He rated Wikki Tourists players highly, especially in their approach to the game in the second half, saying that although they were rather casual in the first half.
“In the second half, they really gave my boys a fight and I give them kudos for that,’’ Biffo added.
In his reaction, Coach Baba Gana-Naru of Wikki Tourists told NAN that he was disappointed with the outcome of the game, saying that he expected to pick a point from it.
“I am disappointed with the result because we played well, especially in the second half, when the team created some goal-scoring chances,’’ he said.
Gana-Naru, however, admitted that the team did not play well in the first half and commended the home team for converting their chances.
The coach added that he was utterly disappointed with the club’s overall performance in the first round of the season.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, I’m not satisfied with our performance, considering that we did very well in the last two seasons but I am not comfortable with our position in the log this season.
“We have a lot of work to do in the second round. So, of course, I need to recruit more players to reinforce the team, especially in the attack,’’ he said.
Abia Warriors FC had on March 26 recorded a resounding 3-0 victory against Kano Pillars FC at the Umuahia Township Stadium, to break a three-year jinx of both home and away losses in six straight matches against Pillars.
All the results on Day 19 at a glance:
And the League table: