Gabriel Olalekan impressed with a gladiatorial performance on Wednesday to help Rivers United beat Wikki Tourists 1-0 and move up to second place on the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) standings.
The centre half popped up to head home the game’s only goal, his first this season, in the 27th minute of a tightly-fought contest at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt.
United prosecuted the fixture without captain Festus Austin but his absence was not felt as Olalekan led by example, literally, to inspire his side to an important victory.
The former Sharks FC man put in a lung-bursting performance, winning headers, producing vital interceptions and launching attacks from the rear as United kept yet another clean sheet at home.
“I am happy with my performance against Wikki Tourists who are a very good team.
“Our captain, my usual partner in the heart of our defence, was not present so I knew I had to do my best.
“Ayo (Ayobami Asekunowo, who was drafted in as Austin’s replacement) did very well too and I am happy that we won,” Olalekan told Rivers United Media.
United’s steady progress this season have surprised more than a few with just goals difference separating them with the leaders, Enugu Rangers.
Olalekan however insists his teammates must keep their feet firmly on the ground if they are to achieve set objectives.
“We know we are a good team but we also understand we have to work very hard in the coming days.
“There is still a very long way to go in the season and we know we have not achieved anything yet.
“Everyone at Rivers United is focused and we continue to work harder each day than we did the last.
“Hopefully, we will achieve our objectives at the end of the season,” he said.