League leaders Plateau United were handed some rude awakening by Abia Warriors in their Match Day 11 contest at the Umuahia Township Stadium on Sunday when Warriors breached their line three times, the most in a single game so far this season.
Abdu Maikaba’s jogo-bonito cake had pure sand poured on it – pun intended – in the last league game of the calendar year as United came up second best in many aspects of the game, especially in dead ball situations and during fast breaks.
Although missing some of their attacking talents who have hallmarked United’s great start to the season, it must be said that Sunday’s disaster had been looming after United barely managed to scrape past Warri Wolves in the last minute on Match Day 10.
Maikaba is not a manager known for providing excuses but on a day like Sunday when many things failed to add up for his team, his quest to find rationalisation to the loss saw him tracing their mileage from Jos in North Central Nigeria to Umuahia in the East.
He even had to replace one of his trusted midfielders Isah Ndala at the start of the second half due to tiredness and former Abia Warriors midfielder Michael Ibe Okoro pulled up injured in the final quarter of the game.
“I can say the result was not a true reflection of the game but I don’t want to have excuses; we lost and we lost,” began Maikaba to www.npfl.ng
“We will look at the next game but for sure, I believe fatigue is in our players. We travelled for two days. Half way to Makurdi, our bus broke down and we stayed for over seven hours repairing the bus.
“We started our journey on Saturday morning and came to Umuahia around 3 so we came straight to the stadium for warm-up so I believe the fatigue is part of the problem,” he explained.
On Dele Ajiboye
To say that United goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye had a mare in Sunday’s game was merely understating it. He was indeed lucky not to have gifted Warriors striker Lukman Bello a goal late in the first half but he was not second time lucky in the second.
He was directly culpable for Warriors’ second goal and although the third was from a well executed counter-attack, his positioning could well be argued. Maikaba admits it was a bad day in the office for the former junior international and hints at some time on the sideline for him.
“I think he (Ajiboye) had a bad day actually.
“Since we have trained on this pitch, he should have an idea about the pitch so it’s not going to be an excuse for him.
“You cannot as the last man in the team give balls to opponents at that point and I believe he made a great mistake.
“He came to the team while Anozie (Chinedu) was injured, now that he made these mistakes, for sure, I will change,” he emphasised.
Still on course
United remain three points clear of their nearest challengers Lobi Stars in spite of Sunday’s defeat to Abia Warriors.
Maikaba insists that their good start to the season has put them on a good pedestal for success this term.
Yes of course,” replied Maikaba to www.npfl.ng’s question on if he thinks this season can end up as successful as a typical Maikaba second season.
“Actually, we are happy we have started well this season and I can say we came to this game with many of our players injured.
“We are injury hit. If you observe, Abba Umar is not in the lineup, Ibrahim Mustapha the highest scorer in the team is not here and players like Mike Zaruma as well so I have some players at home who I believe will strengthen this team further and will make for a successful season in the end,” he concluded.
Up next for United is a massive clash with reigning champions Enyimba on Sunday in their Match Day 12 game in Jos.