A well-taken penalty from Vivian Ikechukwu rescued Nigeria Women Premier League newcomers, C.O.D United Ladies from the brink of defeat to Edo Queens as they opened their campaign in Week 2 with a 1-1 draw at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos on Sunday.
After a drab and barren first half display, it was Chioma Umeozor that awakened the match in the 60th minute to put Edo Queens in front before Ikechukwu calmly slotted home C.O.D United Ladies’ penalty as the game wrapped up.
Having shared their opening game points with visiting Nasarawa Amazons last Saturday, Edo Queens had come prepared to bully three points off their seemingly inexperienced hosts who have just been approved to participate in the league three days ago by the Nigeria Football Federation Executive Board and will now play their Week One match away to Sunshine Queens onWednesday May 13.
But with both sides playing like nothing was at stake, the first half went by as neither attacks made any real threats to heat up the action.
On one end, there was Ikechukwu dribbling her way to the promise land but her disappointing back pass, looking like a final touch, was only cuddled by Edo Queens goalkeeper Monica Obot. Then Onah Oluchi curled her 25-yard free kick from the left to the roof of the post.
While on the other end was United’s Patience Dike blocking Uche Ndete from making her dangerous move.
The half however boring still featured counter attacks, especially on the part of C.O.D United Ladies who had more possession but it was all to an unproductive end.
Edo Queens started asking the questions from the first second of the second half, blasting two shots over the bar before C.O.D miscued their own chance of getting in the lead when Captain of the side, Blessing Okpe took a corner (the first of the second period) on 56 minutes and Patience Dike headed goal-ward but Obot punched it away.
However, Umeozor and the visitors broke the deadlock on 60 minutes. The attacking midfielderwas at the end of a long cross – which was characteristic of Edo Queens style on the day – then her marker slipped to gift her a one-on-one chance which she gracefully embraced, sending the ball past C.O.D’s goaltender, Yetunde Adeshina.
It was end to end action afterwards with C.O.D desperate to level proceedings and the Ann Chiejine-tutored side eventually got an equalizer from the spot in the closing minutes of regulation time after Agama Nkechi was brought down in the area. Ikechukwu easily dispatched the penalty to share the spoils.
Speaking after the match, Coach Kazeem Alabi who spoke in place of Ann Chiejine for C.O.D United Ladies said:
“This is the first time the girls are playing in the premiership I expect complacency to set in, you cannot avoid it. The team we are playing against have been in the system so they are more mature.
“We just gained promotion so we expected to see this kind of result but I believe we’ve learnt our lessons. Ball possession-wise we outplayed them, we created all the chances, most especially in the first half but we were not able to convert it so I believe we will go back and work on our mistakes and lapses and in our next match we’ll get maximum points.”
Alabi added that their team was frustrated with the style of Edo Queens.
“The team we played against were playing a frustrating game they were just kicking the ball. Our own pattern is to keep the ball on the ground and play more of ball possession but you’ll find out that our opponents were just kicking the ball, the moment they get it they kick it out.
“They put the ball in the air and my girls are not as tall as they are; not as physically built as they are, so that one gave them an added advantage against my girls but we’ve learnt from the mistakes and will correct them in our subsequent matches.
Chief Coach of Edo Queens, Kenneth Aigbe simply said:
“The result today from my own area is not bad so I believe female football is growing by day and by the next home game, we know we will step up our play.
“My team is not a bad team, they are playing well. Sometimes it comes like this you can see the time we scored and see the time they got the penalty which was not a penalty.”
By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam