Emmanuel Ariwa made the difference in the most talked about fixture of the 2013 Glo League season, striking home the lone goal that gave Akwa United the three points and a leap off the relegation zone. But the goal had more significance for Ariwa than many would have thought at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri that Wednesday evening.
Ariwa transferred to Akwa United mid-season from Niger Tornadoes but the match was a home coming for the leggy defender who obviously loves to look trendy given his yuppy appearance in his dyed blown hair. "Bros, leave my hair style oh...it makes me confident on and off the field".
The match was ordered for a replay on a neutral ground by the NigeriaFootball Federation (NFF) Appeals Committee following the twist in the earlier decision awarding the three points to Warri Wolves by the League Management Company (LMC) in the aftermath of the assault on match officials in Uyo in Week 14. The encounter was heading to a deadlock when on 81 minute, Ariwa latched on a loose poorly cleared ball from the Wolves defense to slot home into the right corner of the Wolves goalpost.
"It is a great feeling for me scoring what can be considered an important goal for my Club", said Ariwa in a post match chat while still catching his breath and acknowledging fans and colleagues who were hailing his effort. "It is my first goal but then I have just joined the club midseason and I am happy that we got all three points".
Akwa United enjoyed support from the neutral home fans of Heartland and would have wrapped up the match in the first half with the best of the chances coming the way of Mfon Ini. The rain soaked pitch didn't help both sides though as ground shots were slowed down for the goalkeepers to make saves. But of significance to Ariwa was the fact that he was once recommended to Heartland of Owerri coaches who waived him off as not having enough quality.
"I am not just happy that my team eventually got all three points after all they've been through, but it is more fulfilling because there was an oppirtunity for me to play for Heartland when an agent introduced me to the Coaches but they rejected me. Today, I have shown that my game is good enough for the Premier League", gushed the player that also had stints in Asia before returning to Tornadoes.
For Ariwa, this is just the beginning because according to him, "staying out of relegation and finishing in a decent standing is the collective objective of the players. We must continue playing this well and get the club in the top ten on the log", Ariwa disclosed. The two teams will have two more games, one in the Federation Cup and then the return fixture of the Glo Premier League to be hosted by Wolves.