Kwara United began their TotalEnergies Confederation Cup campaign with a 3-0 win over visiting AS Douanes on Sunday.

The first leg encounter was played at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena.

Kwara United drew the first blood in the fifth minute when Samson Paul followed up Wasiu Jimoh’s effort to tap home at close range.

The centre referee pointed to the spot in the 17th minute when a player of Traore Yaya was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the vital area.

Wasiu Jimoh stepped forward to take the spot kick, even though the visitors’ goalkeeper, Omar Halidou got the angle right, the ball was too fast for him

Kwara United maintained their dominance of the match and kept the pressure on for most duration of the first 45 minutes.

With five minutes left on the clock before the break, Kwara United added the third goal of the match with Gata winning possession in dangerous area, as Wasiu Jimoh gained advantage and scored with a powerful shot.

Here are four things we learned from the match.

Unstoppable Wasiu Jimoh

Most players usually see their profile and plaudits increase significantly when they move from one club to another. Wasiu Jimoh joined Kwara United from Plateau United this summer.

Wasiu Jimoh put in a top-quality performance, one that some believed was worthy of recognition.

The forward bagged a brace, one penalty kick and the other his usual canoon after Issa Gata set him up.

Very impressively, he had four shots on target with two scored, in a near-flawless performance.

Kabir Balogun Was The Best Player On The Pitch

But I imagine that the skill and poise Kabir Balogun showed Sunday. He was always overlapping and running through the channels.

Even though I do credit Azeez Mohammed for selecting the right tactics to get his team the win, the truth is that Balogun’s overall brilliance was probably the most significant difference between the two teams.

Balogun won three aerial challenges, seven tackles, 71 passes and, most importantly, won the game for Kwara United with some top footwork that will likely give Musa Abdulazeez nightmares.

Wasiu Jimoh actually outshone Balogun in a number of categories, but Balogun gave the best overall game of any player on the pitch. I’ve never rated Balogun too highly among the NPFL’s best full backs, but with more performances like these, he’s sure to force his name among the best in the business.

Central Defence Was Shaky At Times

Kwara United were hugely offensive and impressive, as they quickly put the game beyond the reach of AS Douanes.

The Ilorin side dominated possession, had far more chances on goal throughout the game and generally bossed the flow of the game, as is their habit and their strength.

AS Douanes, though, at least looked a real threat on the counter-attack, as they continually exploited the spaces behind Kwara United’s central defence.

Shamsu Alhassane, in particular, got plenty of joy as he utilised his great pace and crossing ability to send over a string of chances for Saviour Ogbonna to attack.

A failure to test Adewale Adeyinka very well, though, cost the team a chance to score

The Kwara United central defence was caught out of position periodically. Despite the huge win, the hosts had reasons to panic at times.

Impressive Midfield Domination At Home

Kwara United’s players’ ability to maintain possession of the ball in midfield for extended spells is legendary, and the fixture in Onikan was no different.

The home side recorded 60 percent possession in the game overall, with a massive 91 percent of all their passes attempted finding a teammate.

It wasn’t just on the ball that this victory was built, though; the off-the-ball work of the midfield trio of Afeez Nosir, Jide Fatokun and Issa Gata was key in helping their side win back the ball time and time again.

Sometimes they only managed to force AS Douanes back in possession, other times they forced them into conceding the ball with an aimless, long or hurried pass. But the three of them were also quick to get a foot in to help win possession back themselves after pressing hard.

Considering the amount of defending AS Douanes had to do during the game, you might have expected their midfield to contribute more defensively than their Kwara United counterparts, but it wasn’t so.

Between Shamsu, Yaya and Frank Kwame, the away midfield totalled four tackles and two interceptions. Afeez, Fatokun and Gata made seven tackles and five interceptions, showing their dedication to the overall cause of Kwara United’s game plan and not just the attacking phases.

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