By Femi Atolagbe
Sunshine Stars ended the 2018 AITEO Cup campaign undefeated Friday, no thanks to a barren draw against Rangers of Enugu in the final Group B game at the Pillars Stadium, Kano.
Prior to kick off, the chances of the Akure Landlords was hanging in the balance following successive draws with Supreme Court and El Kanemi Warriors, but a spirited display failed to lift the coach Henry Abiodun tutored side past Rangers.
After making a flying start, the first real chance of the game came inside 15 minutes, as Kehinde Adedipe and Sikiru Alimi exchanged quick passes in the area but a handball by the former abruptly ended the goal bound move.
Fifteen minutes later, Alimi rose above the Flying Antelopes defence to meet a cross from Sunday Abe, but his goal-bound header was deflected wide.
Coach Abiodun made a halftime substitution, bringing on West Omodu to replace Kehinde Adedipe.
The winger made an instant impacts on the game, making dashing runs on the right hand but his passes were prevented from connecting, as the Rangers defence made life difficult for Sikiru Alimi.
Another second half substitute, Franklin Sasere went close to scoring twice in the closing stages of the game. He drew a save from Femi Thomas with a low drive effort in the 84th minute before directing another header on goal late on.
With the result, Sunshine Stars amassed three points from three games, but a 1-0 win for El-Kanemi Warriors against Supreme Court FC marked the end of the road for the Orange and Blue side.
According to coach Abiodun , “It was a good game, though we are disappointed not to have qualified. It is like this at times; you play well but football decides otherwise. This is what will get today. Congrats to Rangers.”
“Now our season has come to an end. It is up to the management to roll out plans for next season, but I will advise we retain some of our players, the key ones, ahead of next season.”