Bayelsa Queens head coach Moses Aduku admits he did not expect his team to defeat Rivers Angels in Sunday’s Aiteo Cup semi-final match by a wide margin.
Aduku’s side crushed the Port Harcourt club 5-0 at Godswill Akpabio Stadium Training Pitch to set up a final clash with FC Robo, who defeated Edo Queens in the second semi-final match.
Rivers Angels went into the fixture as favourites, having not lost to their neighbors in a competitive game for over two years, but they were humbled by Aduku’s team.
Peace Efih struck either side of Mary Anjor’s goal and Juliet Sunday scored in the 43rd minute to give the Yenegoa side a 4-0 lead at the break.
And three minutes into the second half, new signing Juliet Bassey fired beyond goalkeeper Ibubeleye Whyte and into the back of the net after latching onto a through ball to increase the lead to 5-0.
Rivers Angels did show some improvement afterwards and had a big chance to pull one back — from the spot — after Maryann Ezenagu was brought down in the penalty area. The No.7 dusted herself off and sent the penalty towards the bottom corner, but goalkeeper Sandra Chichi dived to push the ball over the bar.
Bayelsa Queens seemingly ran out of steam after the hour mark and went into their shell, with Rivers Angels taking charge.
Despite controlling large parts of the final 30 minutes, Rivers Angels couldn’t find a way through as Chichi proved impregnable.
The commanding victory — seen by Bayelsa Queens faithful as a revenge for the 1-0 defeat in the regular season and the humiliating 4-0 loss during the Super 6 tournament — came as a surprise to many, including Aduku.
“Football is like that. Honestly, I never expected that we were going to win by that kind of margin because Rivers Angels are no pushovers,” coach Aduku told 234football.
Rivers Angels were crowned NWFL Premiership champions after winning the the Super 6 tournament, which was held in Benin in April.
The NWFL Premiership was scheduled to run a 26-matchweek campaign but halfway through, the season was brought to an end — with the league board citing the need to meet CAF deadline for submission of names of representatives for the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League.
A play-off, featuring the top six teams, was held to determine the league winners, and Bayelsa Queens — who were two points clear at the top of the table as of the time the season was suspended — struggled in the tournament and finished fifth.
Analysts have found it difficult to explain the Bayelsa club’s disastrous outing at the play-offs, but Aduku believes his team’s dismal showing was down to how his players perceived the NWFL’s decision to end the season prematurely.
“The Super 6 came suddenly. It was a shock to us that the league was ended prematurely. That (ending the season abruptly) affected my team a little, but I tried to psyche the girls up.
“I told them that playing in the playoffs was an easier route to winning the [NWFL Premiership] title than playing 13 second-round matches. I also told them to change their mindsets, that they were going to face the same players they had faced in the regular season; but they said they were robbed [by the Nigeria Women’s Football League Board]. And, unfortunately, these are women. You know how they are? Sometimes, when they’re disappointed, it becomes very difficult to motivate them.”
And responding to claims that Bayelsa Queens would have won the NWFL Premiership title had the campaign not been brought to an early end, the gaffer said: “I think if the season had not been cut short, anything could have happened.”
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