Niger Tornadoes Leaves it Late to Down Akure Gunners

February, 16 2022.

Abubakar Bala's Niger Tornadoes extended their unbeaten run to four games, after the Ikon Allah boys pipped Sunshine Stars by a late lone goal at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja on matchday 13.


Niger Tornadoes produced a late goal in added time through Munir Idris, who was assisted by Ahmadu Liman to break the deadlock in a game that witnessed lots of chances at both ends.


In the opening exchanges, Tornadoes' Ahmadu Liman cut through the defence of Sunshine Stars, his lofted pass found Martins Usule but it was an easy catch for Sunshine Stars goalie, Mustapha Lawal. In the 8th minute, Sunshine Stars got their first real opportunity, through Onyeka Nwaiwu's cross towards Anthony Anoike but his header was foiled by Tornadoes' goalie, Lucky Abdul Jimoh.


The both sides did not hide their attack intentions with relentless moves to draw first blood.


Niger Tornadoes launched yet another incursion into Sunshine's penalty area. Jacob John whipped in a cross and Liman flicked it on into space. Bolaji Adeyemo arrived with an acrobatic kick but it sailed wide.


In the 15th minute, Sunshine Stars were on the move down the right after captain Habeeb Yakub won a duel and set his team on a counter. He covered 60 metres before pulling a cross into the box but it went above everyone. It was the turn of Ikenna Cooper to shoot from distance. He found space around the penalty area and his low drive flashed across the face of goal.


As temper rose, it was beginning to flare and the centre referee had to sue for calm from both teams. The Akure Gunners settled into play and opted to a more patient build-up compared to the energy-rasping approach in the first 30 minutes. On the break, Samson Olasupo profited from the home team's sloppy play and was fed clean on goal. He attempted a more colourful finish but it was too weak to trouble goalkeeper Lucky in Tornadoes' goal.


On the 37th minute, Sunshine Stars saw their effort clip the post. Captain, Habeeb Yakub swung in another cross from the right and it was met by a strong header from Kamaru beating the entire Tornadoes defence but the ball ricocheted against the post.


On the 43rd minute, it was the turn of Niger Tornadoes to strike the post. Diminutive midfielder, Ahmadu Liman dribbled into the box before he went to the ground, Martins Usule was close-by to latch onto the rebound ball but it came off the left post of Mustapha Lawal's goal. Niger Tornadoes shouted for a penalty for an alleged foul on Ahmadu Liman but referee waved play on.


At the stroke of half time, Tornadoes midfield man, Bolaji Adeyemo was booked for a foul on Ikenna Cooper as the both teams went into the break without a goal.


The second half started with both teams showing ambition to break the dock. In a bid to add grit to their attack, Niger Tornadoes sent in James Jonah in place of Kabiru Adeniji. Tornadoes had a penalty complaint after Usule's shot deflected off a Tornadoes player with the home side claiming it came off against the hand but referee did not entertain the complaints.


The Ikon Allah boys rattled the bar again in the 57th minute, after ever-busy Ahmadu Liman lobbed a good ball to Martins Usule who broke free, sent a shot but it came against the bar.


Sunshine Stars' Babatunde Bello and Tornadoes' Sunday Odeh were booked after the pair had a confrontation in an unsportsmanlike manner.


After an hour of play, Coach Deji Ayeni effected two changes for the Owena Waves, sending in Azeez Ajagbe and Ebonam Nwogbaga in place of Onyeka Nwaiwu and Samson Olasupo. Just as Sunshine, Niger Tornadoes continued their search for the opener, this time Martins Usule played in James Jonah, who saw Munir Idris in the box. His attempted one-time cross was cut by Sunshine Goalie Mustapha Lawal in a comfortable catch. Mustapha drew a point blank save in the 66th minute after a freekick from Najeem Adeyinka landed in the box, with Munir Idris heading the ball but goalkeeper Lawal went down well to spare his team's blushes.


Tornadoes captain defence trojan, Sunday Akinmoladun got into the referee's book for bringing down Kamaru Adebari. In the 76th minute, Sunshine's Pius Ojo came in for Kamaru Adebari and Tornadoes got Ifeanyi Okoye on for Odey Sunday.


The game remained without a goal up until the 90th minute with the fourth official signaling an additional time of five minutes.


The breakthrough finally came when Munir Idris found space just inside the box and he curled the ball into the right corner, beating the impressive Mustapha Lawal, to send the Niger Tornadoes bench into wild jubilation. Sunshine Stars quickly subbed in Kehinde Adeyemi for Babatunde Bello but it was a little too late, as moments, the centre referee blew the final whistle.


Tornadoes purple patch performances continued with a hard-fought win coming on the back of picking an away point in Aba against Enyimba which was preceded by a home win against Katsina United.

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