By Femi Atolagbe
A goal in each half from Ajibola Otegbeye helped Sunshine Stars shutdown debutants, Cofine FC to secure passage into the last 16 of the 2018 AITEO Cup at the Warri Township Stadium.
Following the elimination of a top flight side and former champions, Heartland FC in the previous round, Cofine FC head into the round 32 tie brimming with confidence, and aiming for another scalp against a more illustrious opponents in Sunshine Stars.
Nonetheless it took just seven minutes for the class of the Akure Landlords to shine through when Otegbeye lashed onto a ball from Sikiru Alimi to give the coach Henry Abiodun tinkered side an early advantage from the first real chance of the game.
Despite having a larger share of the ball possession, the Ekundayo Ojo led midfield and Kunle Odunlami Marshalled Sunshine Stars defense line ensured Confine FC were confined to the midfield almost all through the opening half.
Six minutes into the restart, Sunshine Stars could have doubled the advantage through midfield maestro Ojo who pulled away audaciously from his marker, raced into the area before sending an effort just wide agonisingly.
In the 55th minute goalkeeper, Henry Ayodele had to be at his best with a top of the drawer save to stop a certain equaliser of the more daring and enterprising Ikot Ikpene based side from point blank range.
With the NLO campaignners pouring forward in numbers in search of an equaliser, Otegbeye completed his brace against the run of play with a clinical tap-in from a trademark cross from second half susbsitute, West Omodu to put the contest to bed 13 minutes from time.
With the win, Sunshine Stars, last year’s semi finalists are through to the group phase of the rejigged oldest football competition in Nigeria.
Coach Abiodun and man of the match, Otegbeye had a post match presser with Sunshine Stars FC’s Media and both men appeared just satisfied with the outcome of the game, with their focus already on the next stage.
Abiodun: _”Congrats to my boys for the win and I appreciate the few supporters that traveled from Akure to support us here. They were patient with us, the second goal took a while to come. And when the chance came the Goal King (Otegbeye) fininished up._
_”We are done with two tricky knock out games, it’s like that in the old FA Cup. Onto to the group stage where we will play three matches and we are going to prepare well and hope to come out good in the next stage.”_ Abiodun posited.
Otegbeye: _”It’s a dream come through for me to score two goals today to help my team advance._
_”Yes I finished as the second top scorer last year, but I just want to score goals in any game regardless of the competition and help my team. We are going to prepare well for the next stage to advance.”_