Akwa United manager, Rafael Everton has defended the club goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo after his howler caused the team to suffered 1-0 defeat at home to visiting El-Kanemi Warriors in their first NPFL game at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Sunday.
Akwa United were pushing to get a late goal against El-Kanemi as the goalkeeper took matter into his hands by moving forward with the ball with the intention of lobbing it forward but he was dispossessed by El-Kanemi player who passed to his teammate to fire from long range to an empty net and hand the Maiduguri-based club their first away victory against the Promise Keepers.
Everton who took over from Abdul Maikaba in a post-match interview leap to the defence of his goalkeeper stressing that nobody is above mistakes.
He said, “Nobody is perfect. Nobody is perfect. Sometimes we (all) do wrong and if I crucify him now, it will be a big problem for his psychology. I will give him motivation (because) it is my job,” said Everton to npfl.ng.
“Sometimes the players do wrong, sometimes I do wrong. I will give him motivation instead because I believe he will change the situation in the next match,” said the Brazilian in his staggered English.
“I need to talk to my players on the way forward. In the game against El-Kanemi, the players did not do the same thing we have practised in around one month. My team did not play well, I know. We have one week for correction and I believe that in the next match, we will see these corrections in the result.
Fortunately for Ojo, fans at the Nest of Champions, as disappointed and distraught as they were, never really blamed the goalkeeper for what many of them felt was him “trying too much to help his team win.” At 0-0, fans were already leaving their seats in frustration after the pre-season hype and when the Ojo moment happened in the 94th minute, it became a case of adding insult to injury.
Akwa United have at least five full days at the training pitch to work more on their Galacticos after the realities of Sunday. Their midweek trip to Gombe United is put on hold which means the Promise Keepers will face a more daunting task of a visit to Kano Pillars at the Sani Abacha Stadium.