Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin this evening began the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League on a bright note, following a convincing 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan.
The Benin Arsenals got the first goal eight minutes into the game, courtesy of an own goal scored by Shooting Stars Garli Falke. The goal resulted from the pressure mounted by Insurance attackers as Falke’s intended clearance went into his side’s net.
The current Federation Cup holders enjoyed the goal advantage in the remaining part of the half until Tamara Ezekiel got injured out of the midfield. Insurance went into the dressing room at halftime with a 1-0 advantage.
The hosts came out in the second half with an early attempt to increase the tally but Jude Ebhohon’s strike went wide in the 56 minute.
The Gbenga Ogunbote managed Oluyole warriors later came out of their shells to level up with some good attempts but Amas Obasogie was up to the task in goal mouth for Insurance.
Coach Monday Odigie’s tactical switch, following 72nd-minute triple substitutions, removing Jude Ebhohon, Vincent Augustus Paul Obatan for Austin Ogunye, Akpos Godness and Evans Ogbonda changed the complexion of the game to Insurance Advantage.
The combined force of the three substitutes paid off when Evans Ogbonda picked up a pass from Stanley Okorom and beat two men before he released the stunner from 25 yards to send the home fans at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium into wide jubilation.
Both teams met twice last season and ended their matches in draws. Insurance FC were forced to a 2-2 draw in the first leg and again forced to a 1-1 draw in the revised fixture at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium.
In the post-match interview, Coach Monday Odigie said he was happy with the victory but not excited because some of his key players were not available for the game.
” It was a tough game and thank God we won. The side that converted their chances won. We are going back to work on areas where we had lapses.
Also speaking, the team captain Maurice Prince and the second goal scorer Evans Ogbonda said they were happy to begin with victory over a stubborn side.
The team manager of the visiting Shooting Stars Gbenga Ogunbote expressed displeasure over officiating and poor finishing by his strikers.
Insurance FC will be hosting Plateau Utd on Wednesday in Benin in the match Day Two fixture.