*Replay to take place in Lokoja
By Oluwole Francis
Nigeria National League Side, FC Abuja, were held by Nigeria Professional Football (NPFL) Niger Tornadoes FC of Minna to a goalless draw in one of the round of 16 clashes of the Aiteo cup at the Area 3 football pitch in Abuja.
Niger Tornadoes started on a bright note in the first 10 minutes as playmaker Ammeh Wilfred was a constant threat to the defence of FC Abuja, however after a series of early pressure the home side began to grow into the match as Akuso flashed a shot inches wide from the goal post.
On the 40th minute the game first substitution took place when FC Abuja Midfielder Akuso was taken off after sustaining an injury while attacking a ball near the touch line.
One minute from the half time the game’s first controversial decision took place when the goal keeper of Niger Tornadoes, Mustapha Aliko, raced off his line to clear a ball but clearly appeared to catch the player rather than the ball, but the centre referee waved play on to the dismay of fans present at the pitch.
The half time whistle sounded on the dot of half time with the away side edging in terms of possession and shots on target.
The second half started with double substitution from Coach Abubakar Bala of Niger Tornadoes who was clearly not happy with the performance of his boys in the first half. He introduced Reuben and Babawo at the expense of Sunday and Abiodun respectively.
FC Abuja were clearly the better side in the second half as ThankGod and Igwe were too much for the Tornadoes’ side.
Play was interrupted in the 13th minute of the 2nd half after the centre referee sent out a fan from the pitch side for foul language.
The home side continued to mount pressure on the away team and would have scored from a freekick which was smartly saved by the goal keeper.
With 29 minutes of regulation time left the home team almost got the all important goal, but Obi’s shot from just outside the box was inches off the cross bar.
With 5 minutes left and the home fans mounting pressure on the referee FC Abuja had a chance to win the game trough substitute Chidi who raced to a through pass from Yaro Yaro only to see that attacker flopped with his first touch as the goal keeper was clearly in no man’s land.
However from the resulting counter the centre referee awarded Niger Tornadoes a penalty although the defender appeared to touch the ball first.
The decision sparked turmoil on and off the field as play was interrupted for about 5 minutes, with the FC Abuja player appearing to walk out of the pitch in protest.
Play was however resumed as Ammeh took responsibility for the kick, however goal keeper Ifeanyi dived right and smartly saved the penalty as the game ended a minute later.
Second leg will be replayed in Lokoja on Saturday 16th September which is the home ground of Tornadoes.