Ekelojuoti’s brilliance takes Sunshine Stars into second spot

By Idowu Bakare

Fuad Ekelojuoti scored a brace as Sunshine Stars maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win over Remo Stars on Matchday 6 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Sunday in Akure.

The win also takes the Akure the club to second place in Group A with eight points, one behind leaders MFM FC.

Sunshine Stars head coach Kabiru Dogo made two changes to the team that beat Wikki Tourists 1-0 last week, with Chibundu Amah and Alaba Adeniyi taking the spots of Kolade Adeniji and Seun Olulayo.

For Remo Stars, Kennedy Boboye named two debutants (Akpojuvwevwo Bright and Ishaq Rafiu) in his line-up.

FIRST HALF

As expected, Sunshine Stars came out more aggressive of the two teams and within two minutes – had the ball in Remo Stars net – when a curling free kick from Seun Sogbeso was headed home by Ekelojuoti.

It did not take long for Remo Stars to get back in the game with debutant Akpojuvwevwo nodding in Awoyemi Abiodun’s brilliant corner.

The surge displayed by both teams gave the match a very nice tempo. Chances followed, most of them for Sunshine’s Jide Fatokun and Alaba Adeniyi, while Dogo introduced Peter Ibe for the injured Franklin Sasere.

Remo’s Edoka Owoicho was also impressive in the first-half, timing his tackles well and clearing the ball of the line to deny Sunshine the lead.

While Sunshine pushed to end the half in positive fashion, Remo’s back line held firm and both sides went in level at the interval.

SECOND HALF

The second half continued in similar fashion, with Amah and Esosa Igbinoba failing to take their chances.

However, the hosts got the lead they deserved on 57 minutes. Ekelojuoti, who was having an impressive game got the last touch on the ball in a goalmouth scramble which was initially aimed on target by his teammate Adeniyi.

The Akure Gunners should have increased their lead minutes after, as Peter Ibe’s strike hit the upright, before he failed to hit the target with a glancing header in the 68th minute.

Remo did not go down without a fight though, and they almost levelled through Ogwuche Mathias and Victor Mbaoma in the final five minutes, but goalkeeper Ariyo David denied them a share of the spoils.

What does it mean? (Ascendency Sunshine, pressure back on Remo Stars)

Sunshine’s win, their first at home this season, sees them move to second with eight points from four games while Remo Stars drop to eighth, with five points from five matches.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Sunshine Stars travel to Niger Tornadoes on Wednesday, same day Remo host Group A table-toppers, MFM.

TEAMS/MATCH DETAILS

Sunshine Stars: David Ariyo; Franklin Sasere (Peter Ibe 35′), Sunday Abe (C), Kehinde Adeyemi, Jide Fatokun, Anthony Omaka, Seun Sogbeso, Chibundu Amah (Tope Akande 89′), Eghosa Igbinoba (Dayo Ojo 57′), Alaba Adeniyi, Fuad Ekelojuoti

Subs not used: Ayo Ojo; Seun Olulayo, Ayo Adejubu, Israel Abia

Yellow card: Nil

Remo Stars: Fabiyi Emmanuel; Awoyemi Abiodun, Edoka Owoicho, Akpojuvwevwo Bright, Aloma Idris, Chidume Victor (Ogwuche Mathias 62′), Kingsley Akemini (Michael Bolaji 68′), Olufemi Oladapo, Ishaq Rafiu (Solomon John 55′), Mbaoma Victor, Ekene Awazie

Subs not used: James Faith, Oknuoghae Osas, Lasisi Saheed, Ayo Saka

Yellow card: Idris Aloma 43′