Wasiu Jimoh sends 10-man Rivers United top of NPFL Group A
“I’ve battled demons that won’t let me sleep “Called to the sea but she abandoned me “But I won’t never give up, no, never give up, no, no “No, I won’t never give up, no, never give up, no, no,” goes the famous lyrics of the popular and beautiful Australian singer, songwriter, record producer and music video director, Sia Kate Isobelle Furler.The lyrics of this song which was featured in 2016 film “Lion” starring Dev Patel couldn’t have been more apt in describing the dramatic events that unfolded on Wednesday at the Yakubu Gown Stadium as Rivers United recorded a victory of epic and dramatic proportions against Remo Stars to move top of group A of this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Wasiu Jimoh was the hero for the Pride of Rivers, reduced to ten men late on, as he prodded home from close range, at the death, when the visitors, full of fight and doggedness, thought they had done enough to earn a share of the spoils.
Kennedy Boboye, head coach of Remo Stars, looked to the heavens, for a few seconds, as though seeking answers to the dramatic events that unfolded on the pitch while the United players mobbed Jimoh, as they celebrated as a band of brothers.
The Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma made three changes to the side that beat MFM 1-0 on Sunday with Gbadebo Samson, Kehinde Adedipe and Ugochukwu Leonard coming in for Emotan Cletus, Temple Emekayi and Obomate Frederick who was bereaved following the death of his Father on Tuesday.
Jimoh quickly got into the swing of things as he got on the end of a sweeping move by the hosts only to see his goal bound shot on seven minutes deflected away for a corner.
The visitors then responded in similar fashion two minutes later as Kingsley Akemiri’s back heel completely carved open the hosts’ back line with goalkeeper, Drissa Bamba badly exposed.
Victor Mboama was the man saddled with the responsibility of pulling the trigger from point blank range but his stinging drive was pushed away for a corner by the exemplary Bamba.
It was a wonderfully open first half that was sometimes marred by profligacy.
One of such moments arrived on the quarter hour when Jimoh stormed down the byline to deliver an inch perfect cross which Ugochukwu Leonard somehow failed to reach when the faintest of touches at the opportune moment would have seen United open the scoring.
It was a game of extraordinarily high levels of tension as the chances continued to come and go for both sides with the hosts notably enjoying superior territorial advantage.
Substitute, Cletus Emotan had a glorious chance to win it five minutes before the end but scoffed his shot from six yards, with the Remo Stars goalkeeper, Emmanuel Fabiyi at his mercy from close range.
With the time allocated for stoppages running out, many of the home fans started leaving the Stadium in disappointment but Jimoh stopped them in their tracks with a moment for ever to be etched in the history of the football club.
“The only that was going through my mind (just before I scored) was that I was going to score,” an elated Jimoh told our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng after the dramatic contest.
“I also told myself that if I didn’t score, then we would score. Towards the end of the game, we were pushing hard.
“We played like a team that wanted to score so before the end of the game, I had the self-belief that a goal was going to come,” he said.
Eguma also shared his thoughts on a game that will not be forgotten in a hurry.“It was very interesting and a tough game but I had a team that was equal to the task.
“I (studied) our opponents and saw that (as the game progressed), they were getting weaker and weaker so I had to make some substitutions amd brough in fast players who put the pressure more on them.
“Even after we got a Red card when it was still goalless, I wasn’t perturbed because I knew the pressure was still on them and that they would crumble and that was exactly what played out at the nick of time,” Eguma said.
Remo Stars’ head coach, Boboye didn’t speak to the media afterwards.
Wednesday’s win was enough to take United to the top of Group A of the NPFL with eight points from four matches.
SquadsRivers United FC: Drissa Bamba, Ubakanma Peter, Konan Ruffin, Ogar David, Kunle Odunlami, Gbadebo Sampson, Leonard Ugochukwu (Emotan Cletus 83′), Wasiu Jimoh, Ossy Martins, (Malachi Ohawume 65′). Adedipe Kehinde and Christian Weli (Onyedikachi Bright 74).
Substitutes not used: Akande Abiodu, Iwunda Chidozie, Emekayi Temple and Chizi Kaka Chinda .
Remo Stars FC: Fabiyi Emmanuel, Awoyemi Abiodun, Edoka Owoicho, Ndah Olisa, Aloma Idris, Chidume Victor, Kingsley Akemini, Ojo Tolulope (Samuel David 53′), Solomon John(Michael Bolaji 86′), Mbaoma Victor and Bello Timothy(Awazie Ekene 60′) .
Substitutes not used James Faith, Oknuoghae Osas, Lasisi Saheed and Ogwuche Mathias
Yellow Cards Rivers United: Christian Weli 40′ Remo Stars: Kingsley Akemini 52′ , Fabiyi Emmanuel 87′
Red Cards: Kunle Odunlami 90′
Goal: Wasiu Jimoh 90+4′.