After a tough but hard earned win against league leaders, Rangers International, coach Solomon Ogbeide of Sunshine Stars expressed delight at the outcome and dismissed the Flying Antelopes from Enugu as just another ordinary side. But his dugout rival, Chukwuma Agbo, who stood in for technical adviser, Imama Amapakabo in a separate interview blamed the defeat on the unavailability of some key playing personnel.
Ogbeide, who spoke to npfl.ng in a post match conference said: “I’m pleased with the result, especially that we were able to beat Rangers in Akure. Rangers are topping the table but I discovered they are not spectacular.”
The much travelled coach also spoke of how he exploited observed weaknesses of the Rangers side to his team’s advantage.
“I also noticed some loopholes in their squad and instructed my boys to go in through there. All the same, the victory will propel us to go for a good result in our next match,” he concluded.
For Agbo: “Our team has been depleted due to some unavoidable circumstances. We made a few mistakes in this match but we have problems with the way the match was handled by the officials”.
It was a decisive 2-1 home victory that earned Sunshine Stars maximum points in one of the NPFL Match Day 16 fixture played at Akure Township Stadium on Wednesday.
The hosts hit target midway into the first half when Samad Kadiri brilliantly side footed in a through pass from Afolabi Okiki. But the Flying Antelopes roared back from Chisom Egbuchulam’s perfectly taken free-kick with just five minutes left in the stanza.
Okiki, who appeared unsatisfied with an assist in the midweek encounter, eventually turned hero of the day for Sunshine Stars when he jumped highest to nod home a pullout from substitute Seun Olulayo on 60th minute.
The victory helps Sunshine Stars climb four places to the tenth spot from their previous 14th position, while the defeat leaves Rangers’ leadership on the log in danger as they now share the same 28 points with Rivers United who beat Wikki Tourists by a lone goal at home.
The opening quarter of the highly explosive match suggested goals would not be hard to come by with both sides coming close. It was Rangers striker Chisom Egbuchulam who took the first salvo but his curly shot went over.
After surviving the early minute scare, the hosts moved the ball forward and nearly hit target but a well-marshalled defence by Papic Ousmane curtailed onslaughts by Afolabi Okiki, Samad Kadiri and Dayo Ojo.
Godwin Aguda broke through from the left flank but the agile player was stopped before he could venture into Sunshine’s vital area. Christian Madu utilised his blazing pace to save the Antelopes on two occasions, reaching the ball to clear away Kehinde Adedipe’s low shot inside the area.
As the match inched nearer the interval, Obinna Nwobodo, Tope Olusesi and Godwin Aguda missed chances in turn, while Dayo Ojo could not find a way through a crowded goalmouth as the visitors held on to 1-1 draw till end of the half.
On resumption of play, the Antelopes fought like a wounded flock but the fluid play of the Akure Gunners neutralised the visitors’ efforts on the day.
Seeing that Rangers were retreating after Sunshine’s capture of the midfield, defender Mine Ojo overlapped from his left back position and almost got his name on the scorer’s chart but his tornado shot went wide.
Seun Olulayo, who came in for Ojo on 58 minutes appeared to have rightly carried out coach Solomon Ogbeide’s instruction when his pullout found Okiki two minutes later. Rangers required a block from Olulayo’s clinical volley and their goalkeeper Itodo Akor almost did that, but Okiki was too fast to head into the far corner from a tight position.
When the flow of play evened out towards end of the encounter, Sunshine and Rangers exhausted their substitutions with Chimezie Amanfor coming on for Tope Olusesi for the visitors, while Okiki left the pitch for Rasak Adegbite but the goal line remained 2-1 in favour of Sunshine Stars.
The home side had an upper hand because they kept more possession to dictate the pace and exploited the gaps created by Rangers.
Sunshine Stars: 22. Ikechukwu Ezenwa, 10. Sunday Abe, 3. Mine Ojo, 18. Ayo Saka, 33. Stephen Eze, 27. Oke Ogagotewho, 14. Rasak Adegbite, 16. Samad Kadiri, 12. Okiki Afolabi, 9. Dayo Ojo, 24. Kehinde Adedipe
Subs: 21. Abiodun Akande, 32. Kunle Odunlami, 26. Afeez Aremu, 15. Sunday Emmanuel, 5. Ahmed Kone, 28. Dele Olorundare, 6. Seun Olulayo
Rangers: 30. Itodo Akor, 2. Etim Matthew, 5. Ousmane Pape Sane, 15. Camara Azeez, 23. Nnamdi Anyasodo, 13. Christian Madu, 26. Chidiebere Okolie, 33. Tope Olusesi, 19. Godwin Aguda, 6. Obinna Nwobodo, 11. Chisom Egbuchulam
Subs: 25. Nana Bonso, 18. Okey Odita, 17. Jolly Osas, 20. Emeka Eze, 4. Chimezie Amanfor, 32. Chiamaka Madu
Sunshine Stars 2-1 Rangers
On Target: 7-4
Corner Kicks: 4-0
Yellow: Cards: 1-0
Red cards: 0-0