AITEO CUP: SUNSHINE STARS SUBDUE NGWA FC, BREEZE INTO QUARTERFINALS
Ezekiel Thompson scored twice as Sunshine Stars eased to a comfortable 3-1 win over giant killers, Ngwa FC in a AITEO Cup round 16 match at the Abakaliki Township Stadium on Wednesday.
As expected Sunshine Stars were stiffened by the physicality of the home side in the early exchanges of the game, however in the 17th minute youngster, Franklin Sasere found a space during a goal mouth melee to poke home and handed the visitors a 1-0 first half advantage.
The Akure Landlords appeared lax in some moments of the second period and that gifted Ngwa FC the chance to create some openings but the non-league side were let down by poor finishing and composure in front of Henry Ayodele’s goal on two good occasions.
Sunshine Stars killed off Ngwa’s hope of equaliser eight minutes from time when substitute, Ezekiel Thompson’s ferocious effort from a lose ball swerved in into the top right corner.
Thompson who recently made a return from a knee injury completed his brace in the 86th minute, heading home Stars third from Ezekiel Boboye’s cross.
The underdogs were gifted a chance for consolation goal late on when their more illustrious visitors got penalised after Boboye was adjudged to have commited a foul in the area and Okoro Johnson made no mistake in dispatching the spot kick past Ayodele.
In the end the Duke Udi tutored side brought the fary tale run of Ngwa FC to an end with a 3-1 win and secured a place in the quarter finals of the rebranded oldest football competition in Nigeria.
In a post match interview, a member of Sunshine Stars coaching crew, Tony Alegbe and two goal hero Thompson reflected on the tricky tie and both revealed the team intend to keep moving forward in the AITEO Cup.
Alegbe: “As expected It was a difficult game. As you can see the first half was very tight and in football no game is won or lose until the 90th minute but in the end experience came to play. We have to keep on fighting until the end.”
Thompson: “Just coming back from injury as a team player, I know I have to give my best to the team and that I did with the two goals. We know they (Ngwa) won against a big team but football games are not exactly the same. Our target is all about wining till we get to the final and when we get to the final the cup is ours.”
Ngwa FC 1 – 3 Sunshine Stars
Okoro 90′ – Sasere 17′, Thompson 82′, 86′
Yellow Cards: Abiodun Joseph 76′ Ezekiel Boboye 90′
Sunshine Stars XI: Henry Ayodele (C), Peter Iyamu (Ezekiel Boboye 46′), Ambrose Onyema, Anthony Omaka, Oke Ogagotewho, Nojeem Raji, Abiodun Joseph (Tope Orelope 83′) Ajibola Otegbeye (Ezekiel Thompson 52′), Franklin Sasere, Kehinde Adedipe, Sikiru Alimi
Unused Substitutes: Olumide Akinroyeje, Rock Durand, Kelechi