NPL: Enyimba, Sunshine Share Points


Two times CAF Champions League winners, Enyimba International of Aba and last season’s Nigeria Premier League, NPL, runners up, Sunshine Stars of Akure, played a goalless draw on Sunday at the Dipo Dina International Stadium, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

The match, which started at 4pm was one of the week 10 matches of the 2011/2012 NPL season.

Pundits of the Nigerian league had rated the tie among the top games of the weekend, considering the pedigree of the People’s Elephant and Sunshine’s feat last season.

The teams proved book makers right, as players from both sides keenly contested every ball from the start of the match till the centre referee blew the final whistle.

Sunshine Stars were the first to show their stuff in the 12th minute, when Harrison Egbune’s curly free-kick from the right flank almost sailed into Enyimba’s net only to be parried weakly against Sunshine’s Ajani Ibrahim for a goal kick.

Enyimba’s reliance on counter attacks almost paid off in the 32nd minute through a well co-ordinated exchange of passes by their captain, Josiah Maduabuchi and supporting striker, Ifeanyi Edi, whom they signed from Ocean Boys.

Enyimba’s aggressive play forced Sunshine to concede a corner kick through a fierce shot from Chinonzo Okonkwo.

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Sunshine Stars’ lion’s share of possession in the first half was unproductive as Enyimba’s defence, marshalled by former Super Eagles’ invitee, Emmanuel Anyanwu, remained resolute, as they kept their opponents at bay throughout the half. Only occasional long range shots from Man of The Match, Medrano Tamen of Sunshine Stars tested the Aba side.

Enyimba’s Coach, Austin Eguavoen, introduced former national junior player, Sunday Emmanuel, while Coach Segun Ogunbote substituted former Barcelona midfielder, Gbenga Okunola with James Moses in the second half. But the changes did not change the result of the match, watched by an impressive state box crowd, who defied the light rain to watch the match in Ijebu-Ode.

Speaking after the game, Ogunbote said apart from hitting the cross bar twice in the second half, some of his players played below expectations against Enyimba.

On his part, coach Eguavoan was impressed to get a draw in Ijebu Ode, saying Sunshine Stars are a good side that could cause havoc for any team on a good day.

The result of the match left the Ondo State-sponsored Sunshine in the middle of the NPL table with 12 points, while Enyimba jumped to the 4th position with 16 points.

—Bamidele Olowosagba, Ijebu-Ode

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