Former Nigerian Premier League big boys, Plateau United of Jos, put up a sterling display against the Super Eagles on Saturday morning but eventually fell 0-2 to the mature play of the national team in a game played at the main bowl of the Abuja National Stadium.
Among those in the stands for the game were the Special Assistant to the Sports Minister and former African tracks queen, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi; the Director of Technical, Nigeria Football Federation, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme; and former Super Eagles Coach and now Chairman of the Plateau United Management Committee, Bitrus Bewarang.
The entertaining game kicked off at exactly 7:45am, with referees Peter Shingi, Adepoju Idowu and Boulus Ajiji, with the national team parading the probables in the likes of Skipper Chigozie Agbim, Ebenezer Odunlami, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Yinka Adedeji and Solomon Kwambe in defence.
Douglas Achive, Sunday Mba, Okechukwu ‘Small’ Azubuike and Ejike Uzoenyi ran the midfield, while Barnabas Imenger and power-playing Abubakar Aliu were the preferred strikers.
Abubakar was to force two excellent saves in the first 10 minutes of the game and also attempted a strike from the resultant corner-kick but it went wide.
In the 25th minute, overlapping full back, Kwambe, did a splendid interchange of passes with Douglas and the loose shot fell to Uzoenyi, who cunningly slotted in the opener with his nimble left.
Despite forcing Eagles’ Agbim to make an excellent save almost on the dot of time of the first half, the Eagles proved the better side in the half and should have scored more.
In the second half, Keshi made a clear change of all the players save for Odunlami, with teenage goalie, Dele Alampasu, in for Agbim.
He was again at his commanding best, even making a face to face save with a rampaging Plateau attacker in the 70th minute.
As the coaching crew and the few fans who were on hand to watch the game seem to have settled for a 1-0 win for the national team, Enyimba’s Mfom Udoh popped up to slide home the second goal after Gbolahan Salami had run ragged the Plateau defence to ensure a more respectable scoreline for the national team.
Plateau Coach, Christopher Danjuma, said he was impressed by the display of the national team and was also satisfied with the display of his players in the encounter, while Keshi said compared to the last match against Niger Tornadoes, his players have shown tremendous improvement, but was not too happy that the Nigerian league is not in session as the players in camp are lethargic due to lack of league action.