Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia have enjoyed a relatively good season but it was not all rosy for the club this year. A team set up to play a Brazilian style that ended up playing the Cameroonian way with no addition in the playing staff but how did they get to that?
With weeks to the start of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), the Umuahia based club announced and unveiled Brazilian coach, Rafael Everton who boasts of leading FC Ifeanyi Ubah to Federation Cup success two years ago, in a very impressive fashion. The Brazilian immediately started work and drafting in players to suit his brand of football and everyone hoped for an interesting season.
Unfortunately, there were disturbing stories of demotion to the feeder team from the management of Abia Warriors handed out to the Brazilian Everton for abandoning his duties and going AWOL. He was actually in Brazil holidaying with his family and maybe a miscommunication forced the hand of the club.
With his demotion came the promotion of his assistant, a Cameroonian, Emmanuel Deutsch who took over after the transfer window has been shut limiting him to making do with the players provided him. The coach immediately started to tinker the squad at his disposal to get results out of the team.
The first couple of months were not good for Abia Warriors as they struggle to get results and had a terrible pitch to play on, which makes one to wonder how the Brazilian would have instilled his philosophy in the team which thrives on a good playing surface.
Coach Deutsch chose strength over flair, a direct opposite to his predecessor’s philosophy. It took some games but over time with goals becoming difficult for the team as the strikers misfired. The choice of grit and girth birthed results as they turned defeats to draws, though some victories also became draws.
The team gradually ascended the NPFL table moving gradually upwards with the results trickling in their favour and their forward pair of Obi Samson and Ndifreke Effiong, striking a partnership that was only bettered by the red hot Junior Lokosa and Nyima Nwagwa.
During the world cup break which later ended up as the end of the season, Abia Warriors played about 19 games and lost just a couple to maintain their fitness as they awaited resumption which never came in the NPFL but was gifted in the mould of the Aiteo Cup.
The Aiteo Cup which was the last hope for a title for all but one of the 19 NPFL clubs after Lobi Stars were adjudged winners of the league and also a shot at a continental place was taken serious but finding themselves in a group of NPFL sides that included Kano Pillars and Rivers United, but it was supposed minnows, Kwara United humiliated Abia Warriors in their first group game and that seemed to hunt them as they only managed to beat Rivers United to dump them out of the competition too.
A little rancour emanated from the Aiteo Cup which saw striker Ndifreke Effiong sent off and subsequently suspended and this should be taken care of in no time so that the team can focus on next season’s campaign. The Nigerian dish prepared by a Cameroonian chef with a Brazilian recipe was not bad after all.