Sunday ‘Chisom’ Okereke was the hero of the day for Nasarawa United as he notched in two goals against a composed Bendel Insurance side in the round of sixteen of the ongoing Aiteo Federation Cup.
A serene atmosphere at the Enyimba FC International Stadium, Aba, Abia State, provided the the bulky frontman the needed ambience as he dazzled his way from the halfway line after being released by King Osanga to poke in a superb goal inside 18 minutes.
But like last year, Bendel Insurance rallied back to equalise in a spectacular fashion, eight minutes later. High-flying Stephen Adodo got his outstretched leg to a long pass from teammate, Benjamin Tanimu, and Ameh Godwin, in post for United, was beaten by the trick.
Both sides sized each other up for supremacy, but the first-half could only end 1-1 apiece.
Six minutes into the second-half, Chinedu Ohanachom who replaced Adamu Hassan, was hacked down inside the box after picking up a long set piece pass from Ugochukwu Gabriel, and the referee needed no special consultation to point to the spot.
Sunday Okereke stepped up to convert from twelve yards, his second goal of the afternoon, and third goal in two consecutive games in the competition this year.
Ameh Godwin had to be at his outstretched best as he palmed out a goal-bound effort at the dying stages of the game as Bendel worked their way to push the game into penalty shootout.
However, 2-1 was the full-time scoreline, as Nasarawa United again dumped the Benin Arsenal out of the knockout competition for the second consecutive year, and set up a Quarter-finals berth against Wikki Tourists FC of Bauchi on Wednesday, 10th August, at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, by 4pm.
Speaking after the hard earned victory Coach Bala Nikyu described the victory as a good one considering the stage of the competition.
“It’s a good thing to win today’s game, especially at this stage of the competition which doesn’t require any room for improvement”,
“Towards the end of the game, we came under some pressure, but that is normal, especially when your opponents are losing. However, if you are not technically good, you could lose focus at such point even when you are leading.”
“As for the support of the Governor to the team, no one is surprised about his untiring benevolence for the team because he has been doing it, and we can’t thank him enough for what he does for sports development in the State.
“We are now in the Quarter Finals, and we await what ninety minutes would offer us. We will go back to prepare for our next game. But in all, God knows what awaits us”,
Hero of the day Sunday Okereke who hopes to be the highest goal scorer of the tournament said that the Aba stadium favours him, “I feel very good to score on this ground again after scoring in the league”,
“This is because the ground favours me and my team a lot and it looks like I have already mastered this surface”.
“My target in this competition is to become the highest goal scorer with the support of my teammates and win the title and get a continental ticket, which is why we always give our best.”