Niger Tornadoes came back from a goal down to defeat Heartland 2-1 in a game that meant a lot for both teams’ chances of staying in the top flight next season, and Minna manager Abubakar Bala Mohammed didn’t hesitate to thank Kaduna fans for their support. He then mentioned how difficult it was to play the entire season away from their Minna base.
Speaking after the Matchday 37 fixture of the 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season at their adopted Ahmadu Bello Stadium on Sunday to avoid relegation, Abubakar stated that they would not have remained in the NPFL without the support of the Kaduna fans.
Tornadoes were in the throes of relegation ahead of Sunday’s match, having played home matches in Ilorin, Abuja, and Kaduna. It was a cagey affair until substitute Nnamdi Egbujuo scored with less than 10 minutes remaining to confirm the visitors’ fears.
However, Ifeanyi Okoye, a Tornadoes substitute, saved Tornadoes’ blushes with a crucial equalizer two minutes later before slotting in the winning goal in added time.
“Today is one of the most joyful days of my coaching career.” We survived the season despite playing 37 games away from our Minna home. We are overjoyed and grateful to the Kaduna fans for their overwhelming support.
“It was a difficult season for Niger Tornadoes because we were always on the road, but Kaduna fans’ fervent support ensured that we survived the season.” “Kaduna is now our second home,” Tornadoes head coach said.
Ifeanyi Okoye, who scored the game-winning goal for the Tornadoes, said he came in expecting to make a difference but never expected to be the game changer.
“I thank God for intervening to make a difference. The game was difficult, but we persisted. “I never imagined I’d be the game changer, but I believe I’ll make a difference,” Okoye said.
Heartland Coach Erasmus Onuh, on the other hand, believes he has given his all to the Owerri side and is available for offers as soon as the season ends as a free agent.
“We gave it our all but were defeated by carelessness.” I’ve done my best, and I haven’t lost a home match since I joined the team. Those home losses prior to my arrival brought us to this point. I’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.”