Lagos - Akwa United manager Zachary Baraje is staying
optimistic his team will remain in the Nigeria Professional Football League
despite losing to former champions Kano Pillars in their last game.
With just one game left in the league, the loss to Kano
Pillars has left Akwa United in a very precarious position and Baraje believes
his tactics may have contributed to their loss.
"It was part of my tactics. We intentionally didn’t
want to venture forward so much. I just wanted that little chance, may be a
free-kick to kill it off," he told npfl.ng.
Also read: Lobi Stars to face Akwa United in Fed Cup final
The stats were astonishing. It was not until the 36th minute
that Akwa United had what looked like an attempt at goal when Friday Ubong’s
cut-back saw Yusuf Adio shoot wide. Then the team’s only corner kick came in
the 43rd minute. That summed up their day.
Kano Pillars goalkeeper Yusuf Mohammed was never troubled
all 90 minutes and again the coach was asked if it was also part of the plot
for his team not to have called Mohammed to duty for the entire duration of the
Baraje’s response to npfl.ng was: “No… No… You are saying
this now because they got a penalty and scored. If they didn’t get that
penalty, it would have been a draw. We did well to contain them within the
tactics I mapped out. I was just waiting for a free-kick or corner-kick to nail
One would then wonder why such a tactic built around
set-pieces only produced a corner-kick and free-kick in 90 minutes. The team
offered so little going forward. But Baraje had other ideas.
He said: “Those moments you saw us soaking the pressure, we
were looking to launch attacks on the counter. That was why I had Yusuf Adio
there. He was to drive us from the middle. Just that it didn’t work out exactly
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