- Published on Monday, 01 May 2017 11:47
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By Toyin Ibitoye
New head coach of struggling NPFL side, Sunshine Stars of Akure, Austin Eguavoen believes the team will continue to improve in every area of the game, and steadily move up the log in the second round of the season.
Buoyed by the winning start to his time in charge of the club following their 2-0 victory over Rangers on Sunday in Akure, 'Cerezo' already has his sight on a respectable finish at the end of the season.
"I am very happy with this winning start," Eguavoen disclosed at the post-match conference on Sunday.
"We have beaten the defending champions 2-0 and more importantly we played well. We created chances to score more goals, controlled most of the game and kept them (Rangers) on the back foot for large spells. This is a good sign", he added.
The former Super Eagles head coach confirmed that the team have signed up some new players that would help their campaign when the more crucial round of the season begins.
Indeed, fans of Sunshine Stars were left satisfied with the team's performance against Rangers, especially in the second half.
The game had started on a very quick note with Rangers basking in the euphoria of their newfound form that has seen them pick up maximum points from their last two games.
Their new levels of confidence was very evident as they pinned their hosts to their half of the pitch with some neat exchanges and crisp passing.
New boys, Ifeanyi George and Bright Silas were combining beautifully with tormentor in chief Daniel Etor and Bobby Clement while Chiamaka Madu and Christian Madu held sway in midfield.
This early dominance almost produced a goal for the visitors in the 24th minute after Ifeanyi George chipped the ball over goalkeeper Henry Ayodele, only to see his effort miss target by inches. That miss was clearly the highlight of the first half.
At the start of the second half, Eguavoen's tactical ingenuity was on display.
Two quick changes were made. Sikiru Alimi and Thompson Ezekiel were introduced for Abey Joseph and Thomas Adeshina. The impact of the changes were immediate.
Alimi's direct and physical play became too much for Rangers to handle while Ezekiel unsettled the visitors in the midfield.
For Rangers, the injured Bobby Clement had to be withdrawn for Tope Olusesi.
In the 57th minute, Sunshine Stars were awarded a penalty after Rangers' right back Osas Okoro was adjudged to have touched the ball with his hands in the box.
Otegbeye Ajibola made no mistake from the spot.
To salvage at least a point from the game, the Flying Antelopes introduced Obinna Nwobodo for a tiring Daniel Etor, Godwin Aguda would also, later in the game, replace Chiamaka Madu.
Sunshine Stars effectively put the game to bed in the 77th minute when substitutes Sikiru Alimi and Thompson Ezekiel initiated a swift counter-attack through Rangers' right channel, cutting back the ball for Alaba Adeniyi to slot into an empty net.
The victory has pushed Sunshine Stars up the log, they are now placed 14th with 24 points while Rangers stay in troubled zone, placed 19th with 19 points.
Photo Gallery : Football Action
Abubakar (Nas) andOgbugh
Ayo Saka (Rivers)
Abubakar (Nas) and Ogbugh
Emeka ogbugh (Rivers) Olayinka (Nas)
Emmanuel Makama (Nas)
Odah (Rivers) and Makama (Nas)
Ogbugh [Rivers] and Seun [Nas]
Odumegwu, Saka (Rivers) and Seun(Nas)
Ogbugh (Rivers) and Olayinka (Nas)
Rivers Chinedu Ogbugh & Nasarrawa Olayinka Onolapo
William (Nas) and Ogbugh (Rivers)
William (Nas) and Odah (Rivers)
A Rangers supporter with his Vuvuzela
Afolabi Abdulwaheed of Gombe United challenges Orji Kalu of Rangers
Ahmed Yusuf of Gombe United is beaten for the winning goal by Rangers
Ahmed Yusuf of Gombe United is helped up by the referee
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