For the always animated MFM FC coach Fidelis Ilechukwu, wedging FC Ifeanyiubah’s eight-match unbeaten run paled to insignificance compared to the joy of having his illustrious duo of Stephen Odey and Sikiru Olatunbosun rejoin the team after their debut national team caps.
A 19th minute goal by Adebayo Waheed ensured the MFM won their first match of the second stanza after a home draw against Akwa United and a 3-0 crash in Lokoja to Niger Tornadoes. They returned to second place on the log behind Plateau United.
After the keenly tactical contest played on a water-logged pitch, Ilechukwu who had offers from FC Ifeanyiubah, his city of origin club, waxed lyrical about the two players who have earned a rating as perhaps the deadliest strike partners in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Odey leads the goalscorers roaster with 14 even after failing to score in his last three games but Ilechukwu likened the two to Spanish league rivals, Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, only that in the case of Odey and Olatunbosun, they are not rivals but partners.
“They are like Cristano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of the Nigerian league. You can’t have them in your team and not play well,” boasted Ilechukwu in his traditional verbal extravagance.
The young coach went on to toast his side as one of the best in the league, insisting that he was always confident they would carry the day against their opponents that had thrashed his side 4-0 in the reverse fixture.
“This is a sweet victory for the team. I knew we were going to get this victory in the match because we prepared for this game. Our opponents were very tough customers but we know we have one on the best team in the NPFL. The arrival of Stephen Odey and Sikiru Olatunbosun also boosted our morale”, he told www.npfl.ng
It was Olatunbosun who showed intent as early as the 4th minute when his run on the visitors’ goal was ended with a weak shot that goalkeeper Bamba Drissa was alert to. Onuwa Chukwuka was next on the 11th minute when his snap shot was parried to corner as the visitors’ struggled to deal with the pressure from the home team.
The goal finally arrived on the 19th minute. Adebayo Waheed found himself in acres of space in front of Bamba as he was played on by Bashiru Monsuru. The youngster had the presence of mind to place the ball to the keeper’s left bottom corner.
The home team should have doubled their lead on the 27th minute as a well worked free kick from outside the visitors’ box saw Onuwa’s well placed pass free Stanley Okorom but the defender made nothing of the chance.
The visitors were at this point living on a knife-edge as the trio of Chukwuka, Olatunbosun and Stanley Okorom were giving the team a hard time. Goalkeeper Bamba had more touches on the ball than his opposite number.
Adebayo Waheed who scored the only goal of the game pulled out injured late in the first half and was replaced by Nojeem Akinyemi.
The first half ended without the Visitors managing any significant effort on goal as the Ilechukwu charges had firm control of the game and deserved the 1-0 lead.
The second half was bit more competitive as FC Ifeanyiubah coach Yaw Preko added more fire power with the introduction of Nkrumah Douglas and Isaac Loute for Tamen Medrano and King Osanga.
The best chance of the second half fell for Godwin Obaje. The league top scorer last season only needed to head in a corner kick that was planted on his head, but he completely fluffed his line when it mattered most.
The victory for the home team moves them to second spot on the log and earns them their first win in four games.
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