- Published on Sunday, 10 September 2017 00:21
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By Promise Etim
Lobi Stars forward Anthony Okpotu scored in his side's visit to FC Ifeanyiubah in Nnewi to leapfrog MFM striker Stephen Odey who left the club just before the final game to the golden boot for the 2016/17 season with both players tied on 18 before kickoff on Saturday.
Okpotu's quest for goals capped the opening minutes of the encounter. The striker was denied by FC Ifeanyiubah goalkeeper Traore Sory before the quarter hour mark, but Okpotu would wait till the 24th minute to topple Odey to the golden boot, when he capitalized on a defensive error, to slam home his 19th of the season.
In what would have been a memorable end of the campaign, the hero turned villain, when he was sent off in stoppage time of the second half, after elbowing Chinedu Mgbachimereze.
FC Ifeanyiubah were without a number of their first team players, who respectively began series of bans handed them following the events that transpired on their visit to Niger Tornadoes on Matchday 36.
Yaw Preko handed starts to Ifeanyi Onuigbo, Godwin Obaje and King Osanga, but his opposite kept faith with the attacking pair of Okpotu and Kingsley Eduwo were responsible for 31 of Lobi's 43 goals in the just concluded campaign.
Okpotu was close to grabbing his brace five minutes before the break, when he got the better of the home side's defence, but was thwarted by the onrushing Sory, who tipped over the woodwork.
Preko's men got back into the game in 68th minute, when youngster Samuel Ayorinde rose highest to head home Godwin Obaje's delivery.
Both sides would settle for the result, but without some mild drama at the closing moments, when Okpotu elbowed his marker and got the marching orders.
Despite the disappointing end to the game, Lobi Stars coach, Solomon Ogbeide believes the forward had a perfect season.
Ogbeide told npfl.ng, he was not surprised at Okpotu's feat, expressing satisfaction with the player's performance and praised his dedication to the game and the club.
"He worked very hard for it. When I came in, I discovered his goal tally was very low. After every training, I normally tell my players that when a lecturer gives lectures, it does not stop you from going to the library to look for more points.
"After each training, he (Anthony) spends 30 to 40 minutes extra to practice shooting. I am not surprised at his achievements. Some of the goals he scored this season were from those sorry of range," the former Bayelsa United handler concluded.
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