By Emmanuel Chinedu
Akwa United became the first team to booked a semi finals spot after they secured a hard fought 1-0 win over former NPFL champions Rivers United, on Monday, in a Matchday 2 Group B encounter, at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan.
In the first half, Rivers United dominated the proceedings, putting Akwa United under significant pressure. However, the resilient Akwa United defense managed to keep their opponents at bay, heading into halftime with the scores level goalless.
The breakthrough moment arrived in the 57th minute when Akwa United’s forward, Uche Collins, showcased his brilliance. Capitalizing on a well-timed through ball, Collins skillfully maneuvered past defenders and expertly slid the ball beneath the legs of the Rivers United goalkeeper Akande Abiodun, sending the Akwa United fans into a frenzy.
The promise keepers, qualifying as one of the wildcard teams alongside Sporting Lagos, has been a force to reckon with in the Naija Super 8. They became the first team to secure a spot in the knockout stage with an impeccable record of two wins from two matches.
Head coach Fatai Osho, who recently took charge of the team, made strategic changes to the starting lineup for the crucial clash against Rivers United. Phillip David and Benson Abbey were given the nod, replacing James Ajako and Osimaga Duke, respectively.
Awaiting the Promise Keepers in the next stage are the formidable teams of Enyimba, Remo Stars, Katsina United, and Sporting Lisbon. The competition is reaching its pinnacle, and Akwa United aims to continue their impressive run and claim the championship title.
The ultimate winner of the pre-season tournament will be rewarded with a substantial prize money of N25 million. The stakes are high, and the remaining teams are eager to prove their mettle on the path to glory.