Left fullback, Reuben Nicodemus, scored twice to hand Nasarawa United FC a hard-fought 2-1 victory over northern neighbours, Wikki Tourists FC , during the opener of the 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League Season decided at the Lafia City Stadium on Sunday.
In a game that was played behind closed doors in line with the directives of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, the Nigeria Football Federation, and League Management Company, the visitors took the lead four minutes into the first-half through Promise Damala following some poor defending by the host.
Nasarawa United, however, drew level courtesy of workaholic defender, Reuben Nicodemus, whose close range thunderbolt could not be dealt with by the visitors’ goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, to end the first-half 1-1 apiece.
The mobile left fullback increased the tally for the Solid Miners seven minutes into the second-half(52nd minute) after spinning the ball inside the box before releasing a low shot that skipped the grip of the Wikki Tourists goalkeeper.
The youngster would later be voted man-of-the-match for his spectacular performance by the handful of journalists at the Lafia City Stadium.
Efforts from both teams to make any further difference in the game proved abortive as the centre referee, Bashir Salihu(FIFA) from Kano State, blew the final whistle, with Nasarawa United claiming the three maximum points.
In a separate post-match interview, Nasarawa United Technical Adviser, Bala Nikyu, admitted the strength of the opponents but praised the fighting spirit of his wards who weathered the storm.
“At the first ten minutes, our boys weren’t in the game and that gave the visitors some advantage,” Nikyu admitted in an interview.
“Wikki Tourists is a strong side, but it takes a team with a strong character and symbiotic relationship among them to respond almost immediately after conceding.”
He said their focus would now be on their next game against Heartland in Owerri, Imo State, next weekend.
Bala Nikyu’s counterpart, Usman Abd’Allah Shariff, told journalists that his team lost to a better side.
“It’s a game that I rate 50-50, because both sides sized each other up with many wasted goal opportunities.
“Nasarawa United deserved to win even though we both played well.”
The Wikki gaffer, however, applauded the officiating, terming it as “excellent”.
“I think the refereeing was excellent.”
Scorer of Nasarawa United’s brace, Reuben Nicodemus, said, though he anticipated he would score in the game, he was overwhelmed by his performance today.
“Before leaving our team’s camp, I had given myself a pep-talk and had some short prayers that I would be the first to score for my team, and thankfully enough, God answered my prayers.”