By: Akinloye Nafiu
Out of everything that raced through Katangites minds, being defeated by Bello was surely not one of them. Although, there are margins for doubt in football, but in this case, it was negligibly minimal that the thought of it would have made a mockery. On the flip side, it occurred that Bello had other plans, as the relentlessly defiant side unsettled the Katanga Warriors in a match characterised by poise and a mesh of frustration and tenacity.
Katanga Warriors, having theoretically set up with what appeared to be a 4-3-3 formation, obviously came to be the side that prompted the most attacking question. The plan was to utilise the wings which comprised the duo of Goodluck and Bosun to get behind Bello’s defence and create space in the attacking third. Unfortunately, it backfired, not essentially because the plan lacked relevance, but, the personnel used came under increasing questioning.
In what came to be characterised by a lot of “what-ifs and whys”, it was thought that Kayode should have started easing up the space for Michael, who is in a rich vein of scoring form, upfront. However, the tactical set up saw him start in a three-man midfield that traded his predatory instinct for creativity. In most cases, the midfield was particularly loose until the introduction of Ibrahim, another integral player who should have started. Theoretically, criticising the tactical arrangement would not offer a comprehensive analysis without applauding the commendable display of Bellites in the heart of defense. What they lacked in individual quality, they had in tactical discipline, arrangement and execution.
They had started with the initial purpose of soaking the pressure and launching counters with frightening transitioning. On three occasions, their attempts had been ruled offside, something that would later foreshadow their goal scoring chance. In quick succession, they had set up their left winger on the event of a loose ball, who with his slaloming pace edged past Tochi in what seemed to be a cat and mouse race before squaring up a fellow teammate who slotted in a wonderful finish.
The Katanga Warriors however responded brilliantly with a beautifully finished equaliser from Bosun, following Rafeal’s marauding run through the wings. It appeared Indy would consolidate on that rove of momentum to break Bello’s defensive solidity. Things went south few minutes at the beginning of the half time when a similarly reminiscent goal surfaced, but this time, it was aided with the help of poor goalkeeping. Indy’s keeper’ loss on the grip of the ball led to Bello’s number 9 firing the second goal in to edge Indy on a 2-1 lead.
Te bulk of the second half featured coincidental injuries, time-wasting tactics, and repeatedly foiled efforts from Indy to break the defensively resolute Bello side. The presence of Yemi, the colossus in the heart of Bello’s defence, singlehandedly switched the tides in favour of the underdogs. Carefully marshalling his defense with a profound sense of spatial and positional intelligence, his performance gave the Katanga Warriors a nightmare to remember for ages.