December, 12 2021.
By Nathan Godwin.
Sunshine Stars of Akure endured a difficult start to their second game at the on-going Presidential Pre-Season Cup to defeat Akwa United 2-1 at the glittering Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.
Sunshine Stars started out maintaining possession and knocking the ball around, as they relied on the lively Hadi Mohammed and bullish Abdul Taofeek for fireworks upfront.
Coach Kennedy Boboye changed his entire team from matchday one, as ex FC Ifeanyi Ubah skipper, Charles Okafor led the team from the back, alongside John Lazarus.
Akwa United took the lead barely 5minutes into the game to give themselves a promising start to the encounter. There was not so much to separate both sides after that as both teams couldn't find their range in front of goal.
Mohammed Hadi was the danger man for Sunshine Stars but Akwa United defenders were quick to close him down whenever he was on the ball. The NPFL champions had a large chunk of the attacks spearheaded by Abiodun Thompson and the tireless Adams Yakubu. The both combined to cause Sunshine troubles but couldn't breach the defence for a second time.
With scores still 1-0 at the end of the first half, Kennedy Boboye sent in the trio of Ezekiel Leo, Wisdom Fernando and Chukwudi Stephen in place of Abiodun Thompson, Isaac George and Faiz Jebrun to add some impetus to a less-colourful first half performance.
Akwa United spurned a number of good chances, as the forward men couldn't find their accuracy.
On the 69th minute, Sunshine broke loose in a neck-breaking speed, as they hit Promise Keepers on a counter. Unable to stop the rampaging attack, Ekene Olisema who was Akwa United's last man hacked the Sunshine player down from behind. It was a red card that was clear as daylight and referee didn't hesitate to send Ekene for early showers. In a swift reaction coach Boboye sent in Wilson Elu to cover for the lost man.
Two minutes later, the Akure Gunners were firing again, this time young dazzler, Promise Awosanmi was brought down in the area and the penalty was awarded. Hadi Mohammed stepped up and sent a low drive down the right of Camerounian import, Jean Efala whose stretch couldn't get him to the ball.
Akwa United wanted a penalty of their own but centre referee turned deaf ears on their appeal, much to the chagrin of Stephen Chukwudi.
With regular time exhausted, fourth official indicated an addition of 3 minutes. When spectators and fans thought the battle was over, Pius Ojo provided a sublime strike to gift his side the lead for the first time in the tourney. There was no enough minutes left on the clock as the official blew the final whistle just after the restart.
Sunshine Stars will aim to get a good win against Lobi Stars while Akwa United will play against Kano Pillars.