Akwa United continued their goal-scoring spree in the Aiteo Cup on Sunday, as they thrashed Nigeria National League new boys Katsina United Juniors 7-0, with Christian Pyagbara scoring four goals.
The home team were totally dominant and, in truth, the goal margin could have been in double-digit. In terms of goal-scoring threat, other than headers from Abubakar Abdulahi and Hussain Sambo, which were well wide of Olorunleke Ojo’s post, the away team failed to produce anything worthy of mention.
After Cyril Olisema missed a sitter and Musa Newman headed wide from close range, Togolese defender Kodjovi Dadzie slotted home after some wonderful build-up play to open the scoring.
On 34 minutes, Newman atoned for his earlier miss, finishing off a lovely move that saw Dadzie exchange passes with Pyagbara before the defender picked out the former Bayelsa United striker in the Katsina box. It was a strike that required great technique and composure.
Pyagbara made it 3-0 from the penalty spot after Bello Lawal handled the ball, and then netted his second to ensure Akwa went into the interval with a 4-0 lead. It looked like Hassan Babangida’s pass to Chigozie Chilekwu would roll over the bye-line, but the midfielder managed to latch on to it before finding Pyagbara, who leapt to nod home to the delight of the home fans.
The second-half had barely started when Pyagbara completed his hat-trick. Dadzie started the move with a shot throw-in to Chilekwu, who got past two Katsina defenders before sending a cross for Pyagbara to tap in.
Five minutes later, Pyagbara got his fourth of the game, fifth of the competition and Akwa’s sixth of the evening, slotting home from close range off a Newman pass.
Substitute Michael Ibeh cut onto his right before unleashing a fierce shot from the edge of the box towards Mustapha Mohammed in the Katsina goal. The goalkeeper produced a stunning save to deny the attacking midfielder. But when the former Ikorodu United man made another attempt few minutes later, Mohammed could do nothing about it. Ibeh dazzled past his marker before firing beyond the keeper after receiving a pass from fellow substitute, Amaechi Orji, to complete the rout.
The Katsina side have a seemingly impossible task of overturning a seven-goal deficit when they host Abdu Maikaba’s men in the second leg on Wednesday, to qualify for the semi-finals.
The winners of the two-legged tie will square up against Sunshine Stars in a two-legged semi-final, with the Akure Gunners hosting the first leg on Satuday•