Eagles edge out MFM in thrilling NPFL Invitational final
African Nations Championship (CHAN) bound Super Eagles claimed the 2017 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with a 3-2 win over MFM FC at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano on Sunday.
Last season’s top scorer in the NPFL Anthony Okpotu scored twice and his Lobi teammate Kingsley Eduwo added a third for the Super Eagles before MFM made it a nervy last five minutes through goals from Jonathan Zikiye and Chuka Uwaga.
The showpiece game of the pre-season tournament was already looking like a borefest that will not produce goals until the stroke of half time when Okpotu expertly lobbed the ball from Peter Eneji’s inch perfect pass over MFM goalkeeper Abayomi Folarin.
However before then the MFM goalkeeper had to deny Rabiu Ali on two occasions inside the last 15 minutes of the first period. First he blocked Ali from close range and then followed up with a finger tip save to deny the Eagles midfielder from toe-poking the ball beyond him.
But Folarin could not keep out the Eagles attack for long. Twenty four minutes into the restart Okpotu scored his second of the contest to put day light between Salisu Yusuf’s men and MFM after calming picking his spot off Nura Mohammed’s pass.
Okpotu then made way for Eduwo, who needed just four minutes of his introduction to the game to score a third for the Super Eagles. Again, Nura Mohammed was the provider as the Eagles looked home and dry.
MFM head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu turned to one of his youngsters Abayomi Lawal and the attacker’s pace did unsettle the Eagles’ defence.
The late surge began on 86 minutes when left-back Jonathan Zikiye who was impressive throughout the game pulled one back for MFM and fans watching from the stands felt it was too little, too late.
Ilechukwu’s team were not done yet. On 90 minutes, Uwaga popped up to head in from the near post past Eagles goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai off a corner to set up a nervy end in stoppage time.
MFM had one last chance to level matters in Kano but Lawal just could not keep his attempt on target as the Super Eagles head off to CHAN billed to hold in Morocco as champions of the NPFL Invitational.