Sunshine Stars required an early goal from Ogunniyi Timileyin to defeat visiting FC Ifeanyiubah at the Ondo State Sports Complex in Akure on Sunday.
Ogunniyi expertly dispatched a free-kick from the edge of the opposition box early in the 9th minute to earn the Owena Waves their first win of the season.
Efficient First Half
Sunshine Stars coach, Gbenga Ogunbote and his opposite number, Uche Okagbue, each made three changes to their respective starting line up from Matchday 1.
The home side threw Tolu Oluwole, Chinedu Udechukwu, and Timileyin Ogunniyi into the starting eleven ahead of Waheed Adebayo, Sadiq Yusuf, and Quazeem Obanigba. Okagbue opted for Evans Ogbonna, Uzochukwu Ifejiofor, and Patrick Egeonu in place of John Tsekaa, Maxwell Ijioma, and Paul Chollom.
The game started with low intensity as both sides struggled to create chances. However, a moment of individual brilliance from the game’s first meaningful attempt provided the opening goal. Following a foul on Sunshine Stars striker Chinedu Udechukwu at the edge of the opposition box, Ogunniyi stepped up in the 9th minute to curl the resulting free-kick beyond the reach of the goalkeeper from 19 yards out.
Chances came in few and far between but the visitors could have grabbed an equalizer on the half-hour mark. Uzochukwu Ifejiofor sent in a low cross that crawled across the face of Sunshine’s goal with no teammate positioned to apply a finish. Ogunniyi also stepped up with another moment of brilliance two minutes later as he collected a short corner kick from Ayo Adejubu but his left-footed shot narrowly missed the target.
Edgy second half
Both sides came back from the break with an urge for goals but none of the efforts changed the scoreline. FC Ifeanyiubah midfielder Abdulrasheed Umar triggered the avalanche of missed chances four minutes into the second half as his half volley from the edge of the box missed the target by far. The home side responded almost instantly as Adejubu’s corner kick located Tolu Oluwole but the midfielder’s header flew off target from close range.
Adejubu and substitute Sadiq Yusuf both failed to convert clear cut chances for the home side to increase their tally. However, the best opportunity of the half fell to Tochukwu Anueyiagu in the 70th minute. The FC Ifeanyiubah defender was unmarked and found by a free-kick but his volleyed shot, 8 yards from goal, sailed horribly wide for a throw-in.
Sunshine Stars reduced some late counter-attacks by the visitors to nought as the Owena Waves held on to their first win of the new season.
Ogunbote, who was in charge for the first home game of his second stint as Sunshine Stars head coach, expressed his delight with the victory.
“I’m happy we are able to get the three points. At least, it will remove some sort of pressure from the team, the management, and the coaches,” he told npfl.ng.
However, the highly experienced coach called for caution on expectations from the fans.
“I will love to canvass for understanding from the fans. The team is in the making and we are still working with the players we met on the ground. But I know surely it will end in praise,” Ogunbote concluded.
On his part, Coach Okagbue blamed his side’s defeat to profligacy in front of goal.
“I feel bad though the boys didn’t play badly. We could have ended the match in a draw if we had converted those two chances,” he said.
Vanguard News Nigeria