After a three-year, seven-month and 19-day absence from the Nigeria Professional Football League, newly promoted Bendel Insurance scored two first half goals to beat hosts Akwa United 2-0 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo in the league season opener on Sunday.
Imade Osehenkhoe opened the scoring for the visitors in the 38th minute tapping in the ball from close range while Ismael Seriki made it 2-0 in the 41st minute. The hosts who had a shaky start to the game mounted several attempts for come back into the game but the visitors held firm to come out with the maximum points.
The result sees the newcomers go top of Group A of the 2023 NPFL abridged league while Akwa United sits at the bottom of the log. Insurance’s next game would be against Plateau United.
Aside the scorers, goalkeeper Amas Obasogie had an impressive performance keeping the Akwa United players at bay and ensuring his side were still in the game pulling off several saves.
Reacting to the win, Insurance head coach, Monday Odigie, says he’s happy his side took their chances against a more matured and experienced side.
“The result did not show the actual performance on the field. The home team were a more matured and experienced side so I want to thank God for the result. We’re in the league for the first time and I feel the result of the preseasons helped us build our strength and mentality. We took our chances and the result came our way. Irrespective of the result, we hope to be consistent because this is a tough league,” Odigie said after the match.
“The abridged league is a more congested league. When you look at the travels you’ll have to take on, if your team is not strong, you can’t stand it. All the teams in the group are strong, the first game is gone and our plan is to work on the mistakes and wait for stronger opposition as we go.”
Akwa United coach, Deji Ayeni, says his boys were nervous and he hopes to work on the lapses ahead of their next games.
“I felt in the first half, the boys were a bit nervous in front of goal and were also anxious to get the job done. It is unfortunate we lost our first game, the league is a marathon and anything can happen. We’ll go back to the drawing board and work on our mistakes.”