Jubilation in Akure as Sunshine Stars escape drop from NPFL
….. STARS BEAT THE DROP WITH FINAL DAY WIN OVER RIVERS UNITED
There jubilation and encomium in the Ondo state capital yesterday when Sunshine Stars of Akure escaped relegation from the Nigerian league topflight football after fighting tenaciously till the end in a very challenging 2021/2021 NPFL season.
The Akure based side put a stamp on its NPFL status on the final match day with a 1-0 win over Rivers United at the Ondo State Sports Complex on Thursday.
Man of the match, Ejike Uzoechi proved decisive again, scoring the only goal of the game as early as the fifth minute from a corner kick, to take his tally to four goals in his abriged debut season with Sunshine Stars.
Twelve minutes after heading the Deji Ayeni tinkered side in front, Ejike went close again with a another header over bar, moments after Ibrahim Ajani also tested Theophilus Afelokhai.
Rivers United also had a glancing header which went inches off target in the 35th minute, before Uche Okafor saved from another freekick to keep the hosts’ lead into the break.
The second half was more about control for Sunshine Stars, as results from other match centres and ruling of points deduction against main relegation rivals, Jigawa GS ensure safety was never in doubt.
Second half substitute, Kolade Adeniji went close with a low drive in the 69th minute, just as Waheed Adebayo almost beat Afelokhai for a second in stoppage time.
Ejike’s lone header proved enough as Sunshine Stars clawed a place above the relegation with 45 points in a season they had an alarming sequence of 18 matches without win.
After the match, the goal scorer Ejike Uzoechi ascribed the victory to the dedication and hard work of the team, officials and God’s grace.
Head coach, Sunshine stars Deji Ayeni said although it was a difficult task for him and the team due to the poor form of the team from the beginning of the season,but the players were determined to fight to the end of the season and escape relegation.
Suggesting a way forward for sunshine stars ahead of the upcoming season,a soccer fan, Mr Olubunmi Agunloye want the management of the Ondo state football agency to make early preparation,signing and take the welfare of the players serious to be a title contender in the next football season instead of struggling to escape relegation.
On his part Rivers United Coach, Stanley Eguma while applauding the two teams,league management company LMC and other stakeholders called for a well organized incoming football season in Nigeria.
POST MATCH QUOTES🎙
“Every individual should have a positive mindset. I studied the log when I took over and realised we had 14 matches left, believing if with 23 points we should be safe and today we have 24 points.
“I give thanks to the Ondo State Government and other stakeholders for the support given the team It can only be God and not me; like I said when newly came in: it is not the David that killed Goliath but the person behind him.”