By Esther Egbe
Striker Salisu Saidu has saved Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Plateau United, from suffering their first home defeat in this year’s campaign as he held his nerves to convert a last gasp penalty awarded his side by the centre referee, Sani Mohammed in the last second of the five- minute second half injury time.
The arbiter from the Kaduna Referees Council who had earlier awarded the home side another controversial spot kick, surprised Abia Warriors bench again when he pointed to the spot as Warriors goalkeeper, Uche Okafor harmlessly picked the ball inside his territory and the referee adjudged him to have collided with a rampaging United attacker.
But defender and Jos City brought-up, Chinedu Efugh, delighted his numerous fans as he equalised for the visitors with his first ever league goal in Abia Warriors colours nodding in a Shedrack Asiegbu free-kick in the 68th minute.
The Warriors were still cruising to what would have been their second away win of the season when the referee awarded the first of the two penalties to the home side in the 87th minute. But Warriors goaltender, Uche Okafor became the hero as he caught Reuben Bala’s spot kick to the chagrin of United bench led by former Abia Warriors manager, Kennedy Boboye.
But Salisu saved his blushes as he converted the other debatable penalty at the death to make it 2-2.
In his reaction, Abia Warriors Head Coach, Emmanuel Deutcsh lamented the two penalties awarded against his side which he said denied his team of a famous victory and called on the organisers of the league to monitor closely, the performance of the referees to ensure that only the best teams qualified to represent Nigeria in continental competitions.