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2023 Federation Cup: El-Kanemi Warriors lucky to progress – Coach

Hamza Abara, the Technical Adviser of El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, says his team are extremely lucky to still be in the running for success in the 2023 Federation Cup.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the former champions were on Wednesday in Abuja spared the agony of elimination from the 2023 Federation Cup Round of 64 by penalty kicks.

Goalkeeper Emeka Onyia spared the blushes of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side by saving a vital penalty kick during their shootout encounter against De Cardinals Sports Club.

With the lottery of penalty kicks following a 1-1 scoreline at the end of regulation time, it was the El-Kanemi Warriors who ran out 5-3 victors to advance to the round of 32.

Abara expressed mixed feelings about the result, saying that even though he was happy about the victory, he was also not happy with the performance of his team.

“It is a moment of joy, not because we played well. I think our opponents deserved to win the match, but they were unfortunate to have lost due to inexperience on their part.

“As was obvious in the match, we did not show any pedigree as an NPFL side.

“We played a very bad game. No cohesion, bad transition and we made alot of mistakes which were so glaring.

“So, I think we were just lucky to have won the match,” he said.

NAN also reports that the win served as consolation for the NPFL side who are currently neck deep in the relegation waters.

The Maiduguri-based clubside presently sit last on the Group A table with nine points from 15 matches played so far in the abridged 2022/2023 NPFL season.

On El-Kanemi Warriors’ chances of surviving relegation, the former Niger Tornadoes and Enyimba coach said he was not new to such rescue missions.

He, however, admitted that the task before him was not an easy one.

“I am here on a rescue mission and everyday I do plan to see how I can take El-Kanemi out of relegation as well as ensure we give a good account of ourselves in the federation cup.

“The federation cup is a ‘challenge cup’ where anything is possible. You can see a team from the Nigeria National League (NNL) or a Football Academy clubside come from nowhere and knockout an NPFL clubside.

“So, the truth is, I cannot do anything beyond my powers. I can only build the team and tell the players what to do, but it is not my responsibility to go into the field of play and win the matches for them.

“That is the problem, but we are going to push and see what God can do for us,” he said.

He expressed confidence in the ability of his team to survive the drop, stressing that though the task is a difficult one but keeping El-Kanemi Warriors in the NPFL is not impossible.

According to him, Niger Tornadoes once found themselves in a similar situation but when he was called upon, he rescued them from relegation.

“So, it is not over until it is all over. You can see the log, everyday, every moment, there is always a chance of survival for us.

“I think the last match of the season will determine which teams will be relegated,” he said. (NAN)

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