Reigning Champions of the Nigeria Women Premier League were on Wednesday beaten 2-1 by Abia Angels in a friendly match decided on an unfriendly Abayi girls school field in Aba.
A second half brace from Vivian Ikechukwu saw the hosts come back from a goal down to claim victory thereby rendering Rafiat Sule’s lone strike in the first half a mere consolation for the visitors.
The Jewel of Rivers as Rivers Angels are fondly called, had grabbed the initiative from the first blast of the whistle, expressing sheer dominance over their Abia-based counterparts, but had to make do with only the 45th minute goal scored by their Bayelsa Queens import, Sule, who was the highest goal scorer in the league last season.
Abia Angels did not trouble Rivers Angels’ goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi in the opening half. And they have their goalkeeper – who even saved an Amarachi Ojinma penalty – to thank for ending the first half with a respectable scoreline.
Having tested most of their new legs in the first half, the hosts unleashed their best eleven in the second period, and six minutes later they equalized.
An unexpected attack from Abia Angels saw Tochukwu Oluehi spill the ball near her goal line and striker Vivian Ikechukwu gladly blasted it into the net.
Ikechukwu completed her brace in the 75th minute by taking advantage of a defensive blunder by Rivers Angels’ Ezekiel Blessing.
As the visitors made desperate efforts for an equalizer, free kick specialist Osinachi Ohale was denied by the post twice.
Both teams are scheduled to meet again at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt for the second leg of the friendly.
The matches would surely serve as a dress rehearsal for the two Group A opponents that are billed to go head to head on Match Day six of the 2016/2017 NWPL season.