(By Timilehin Oluwadare, Lagos).
Two spectacular first half goals from Sikiru Alimi and Franklin Sasere powered Sunshine Stars to a 2-1 win over Heartland in a Nigeria Professional Football League match day 21 game at the Ondo State Sports Complex, Akure.
The coach Henry Abiodun-tinkered Sunshine Stars head into the match looking for their first win after four matches, and were already up and running from the 12th minute of the relegation six-pointer through Alimi.
The striker controlled a Seun Olulayo’s pass sideway to create space and pulled away from his marker before volleying home his 6th goal of the season to hand the hosts an early lead.
10 minutes later Sasere doubled the advantage when he dispossesed his former teammate, Ike ThankGod off the ball, and powered a low drive past Japhet Obudo’s into the bottom right corner for a goal.
Sunshine Stars could have added more goals, but midfielders, Kehinde Adedipe and Anthony Omaka could not just find the right footing when gifted with glaring chances, while Emmanuel curled an effort just wide at the stroke of half time.
Heartland halved the deficit a minute after the restart through Fortune Omoniware who headed the ball past an on rushing Henry Ayodele in an aerial scuffle to set the stage for a tensed final period.
However the game failed to produce further goals despite the renewed efforts of both sides, with Sunshine Stars closing out the contest for their first win since match day 17 to move out of the bottom four with 24 points.
At the post-match conference, coach Abiodun commended his players for their efforts and reaffirmed his hope of steering Sunshine Stars clear of the drop zone in time for the world cup break.
“I am happy to win, congratulations to my players and the team. Football is a game of momentum, after Heartland’s goal will have to ensure will put many things in check to secure the win. Again, I praised my boys for their efforts._
“Yes, the win could be the turning point for us and I still hope we get out of the relegation zone before the World Cup break. For us we are going to Katsina to fight for the maximum points in our next league match,” Abiodun Stated.
Sunshine Stars have failed to keep a clean sheet since week eight, however a new addition in the defense, Kehinde Adeyemi who also faced the media after the win over Heartland vowed his side will keep working hard to find solidity at the back.
“I am happy we won today. We believe so much in our ability as a team with God we will get more good results.
Football, the coach Abiodun said is a game of mistakes, without mistakes, goals won’t come we shall keep working hard to correct and avoid mistakes.” Adeyemi declared.
Eret Dokubo of Heartland at the post-match interview expressed disappointments in the outcome of the game, but remained upbeat of Heartland’s survivor quest.
Dokubo stated: “I am not happy with the outcome of the game, this is not a game we should lose. In the second half we risked it all and got a goal just after the restart and we had some more chances which we failed to utilise.
“I just came in and I believe with the quality of players we have, added to the team, things will get better and little work in some areas,” Dokubo opined.
(By Timilehin Oluwadare, Lagos).