Sunshine Stars v Kano Pillars: Match Report


Taiwo Adelu/ Ijebu Ode

Sunshine Stars of Akure ended the 2011/2012 Nigeria Premier League season on victory note, as they defeated champions, Kano Pillars 2-1 in the last match of the season at the Dipo Dina Stadium in Ijebu Ode on Friday.

Pillars came into the match with nothing at stake, as a win or loss would not have deprived them of the league crown.

And, because it was a formality tie, Pillars did not play their usual aggressive game, and their performance rubbished the standard of the NPL this season.

Pillars scored first in the 8th minute of the first half through Nasiru Ali, whose shot outside the penalty box caught Sunshine goalkeeper, Ocheje Moses napping.

However, the hosts were more determined throughout the encounter, showing dexterity as a team that wanted to win the match to end the season on a high.

The first goal spurred Sunshine players to action, as they piled more pressure on their visitors. Their effort paid off in the 22nd minute when Dele Olorundare dribbled two defenders of Kano Pillars and hit a powerful shot, which goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai failed to stop.

Sunshine’s Medrano Tamen came close to scoring another goal for his side in the 29th minute, but was denied by Afelokhai, who was right on time to parry the ball for a corner kick.

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A determined Sunshine Stars came into the second half with more attacking effort, forcing their way to increase the goal tally. But they only missed many scoring chances until Ajani Ibrahim capitalised on a defensive error by Afelokhai to score the winning goal in the 70th minute.

The goal sent Sunshine fans into wild jubilation, but the fact that Pillars had won the league title before the tie in Ijebu Ode, made the victory of the home side look ordinary.

Sunshine Coach Gbenga Ogunbote praised his team for winning the match. He said it would have been bad losing the last match of the season at home, especially when they have a Champions League match against TP Mazembe of Congo in the first week of October.

“This match served as a preparatory game ahead of our CAF Champions League semi final game against Mazembe. I would have felt bad if we lost the match,” Ogunbote said.
Coach of Kano Pillars, Baba Ganaru said his team came to Ijebu Ode to enjoy themselves, having been handed the league crown by the NPL prior to the match.

“I did not feel bad that we lost because the ultimate crown has been won already. I told my players not to be under tension playing this match and I was glad we did not lose with a wide margin,” he said.

NPL Final Week 38 Results:

Kwara Utd 2 3SC 0.
Sunshine 2 Kano Pillars 1.
Kaduna Utd 3 Lobi Stars 1.
Rangers Int’l 3 Sharks 0.
Enyimba 3 Wikki 0.
Heartland 1 Akwa Utd 0.
Gombe Utd 1 Warri Wolves 0.
Dolphins 2 Rising Stars 0.
Tornadoes 2 Jigawa 0.

Kano Pillars and Rangers qualify for the 2012-2013 CAF Champions League, while Lobi Stars make it to the Confederation Cup.

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