Wildcard team, Akwa United and Lobi Stars of Makurdi have taken control of Group B in the ongoing Naija Super 8 tournament, after recording victories in their opening matches.
The Uyo side defeated Yobe Desert Stars 2-1, while Lobi Stars came from behind to snatch a late 2-1 victory over Rivers United, at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos, on Saturday.
In the keenly contested tie, Lobi Stars dominated the opening exchanges, but it was Rivers United who took the lead in the 31st minute, through a deflected shot by Liberian striker, Albert Korvah.
Okoromi David equalised for Lobi Stars in the 72nd minute. The North-Central champions snatched a late winner, after a howler by Rivers United goalkeeper, Sochima Victor, gifted Chibuike Charles a tap-in from a yard out in the 97th minute.
In his post match interview, Lobi Stars coach, Bala Abubakar, said his side is not thinking about winning the tournament for now. “I am happy with this win in first game as manager of this team. What I want to do with this tournament is to build my team. The most important thing is to qualify for the semi-finals, not focusing on winning the tournament for now,” he said.
Rivers United coach, Nduka Ndubuisi said lack of concentration cost them the match “With a little bit of concentration, we could have at least got a draw. But we still have two games to play. We can still both matches and qualify. We are grateful to the organizers of this tournament. It’s good that kind of mistake happened now. It gives us time to fix things and prepare fully for the season.”
Earlier in the day, Akwa United raced into a two-goal lead in the first half through Chukwuebuka Anthony in the 35th minute, and a beautiful curler by Cyril Olisema, in the 42nd minute.
Olisema had a chance to extend the lead from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute, but was denied by Yobe Stars goalkeeper, Isah Ismail. Emmanuel James, halved the deficit two minutes later with a long range free kick into the far corner, but Akwa United held on to claim the three points.
Commenting on the match, Akwa United coach, Fatai Osho, said his team can now fancy their chances of winning the trophy. “We have to commend these players for this performance. We were in control of the game. For us perform this way with five days of preparation, showed we can do this. We had a good chance to make it 3-0, but we wasted it. We are a team in transit. Just like 30% to what we are thinking. A lot of work still has to be done. With this win, we fancy our chances in this group. And once you are in the semi-finals, you are a treat to winning the trophy,” he said.
Yobe Desert Stars captain, Barnabas Ingya, said. “Naija Super 8 has given us a very good exposure as a team. We played in Eket and now in Lagos. We still have the opportunity to qualify and we are going to give it our best.
Naija Super 8 continues tomorrow with Group A matches between Remo Stars and Katsina Unites at 2pm, followed by the Enyimba Football Club vs Sporting Lagos at 4:30 pm. All the matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport Football (DStv ch 205 & GOtv ch 61).
Naija Super 8 is organised by Flykite Productions in partnership with MultiChoice Nigeria and sponsors, MTN, Hero Lager, DStv, GOtv, SuperSport, Moniepoint, Pepsi and Custodian Assurance.