When Akwa United appointed a star-studded coaching crew led by John Obuh during the off season, the atmosphere around the club significantly oozed confidence and reasons to believe due to acumen of the tacticians coming on board.
Eight matchdays into the 2019-2020 Nigeria Professional Football League season, the story is a far cry from the heightened expectations that heralded the Promise Keepers into the campaign.
The 2017 Aiteo Cup winners announced the resignation of John Obuh on Monday, three days after the Uyo-based side suffered a 3-0 defeat at MFM FC in Lagos. There had been speculation about his possible departure in the last few weeks and Friday’s result greatly fueled the rumors until the news broke early on Monday.
Having invested in the recruitment of quality players and coaching crew, Akwa United currently lie 16th on the log, just above relegation positions based on better goal difference. So how do the stats describe Obuh’s reign as Akwa United boss?
Akwa United scored 32 goals last season, at least two more than any other side. When such a team retains the joint top scorer for the season, Mfon Udoh, and captured some other top stars across the country, goals are supposed to be the least concern for the team.
However, the Promise Keepers failed to score in four out of eight league matches, leaving only Kano Pillars (5) and Adamawa United (5) with worse outings in front of goal than John Obuh’s side this season.
Football is a game of two halves but Akwa United struggled to justify this under the tutelage of John Obuh. The team scored just 1 goal in the second half of their 8 league matches under the former Kwara United coach, the lowest by any side in the league.
This is contrasting to their decent display in the first half of matches where the Uyo based side netted six goals and could have been placed 11th on the log standings if only first half results of matches were considered. The slump in performance after the restart could be down to loss of concentration, tiredness or just a peculiar challenge for the team.
Apart from failing to win against any of the sides above them on the log this season, Akwa United also marginally conceded more goals (1.13) than the league average after matchday 8 (1.01). These stats have not helped the team’s bid to avoid another slow start to this campaign.
In what is already seen as a trend, the Promise Keepers failed to win any of their opening four matches in two of the last three topflight seasons and the poor start was keenly expected this season.
However, the poor form elongated beyond the first four games and Obuh’s team had to wait till match day six before accruing their first win of the season
One win from eight matches is not an enviable stats but Obuh’s resignation was underlined by his claim of sabotage and indiscipline by some players in the squad. The club has also moved to address the claiming by suspending an unnamed player while two others are currently undergoing a disciplinary related investigation.
Meanwhile, Kennedy Boboye has been hotly favored to replace the departed Obuh at Akwa United. The former Sunshine Stars and Remo Stars head coach will have to address the team’s fall as defined by the stats above and a reportedly intense atmosphere that awaits him in the dressing room.