Africa’s largest women’s football league is back!
Women football fans across the state of Ondo, Southwest Nigeria, trooped en mass to witness the commencement of the Nigeria Women Premier league 2016/2017 season.
The newly inaugurated women’s board put together a momentous opener between hosts Sunshine Queens and visiting side, Ibom Angels. The fixture was graced by dignitaries including the First Lady of Ondo State, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu
After a brief introduction and handshakes between the league board Chairperson Aisha Falode, with the players and the first lady, the game swung into full action.
Coach Ogbonda Whyte’s side started off brightly with tough tackling and ball retention in their opposing half, but it was the home team Queens, who drew first blood.
A swiftly taken corner in the 12th minute saw Angels goalkeeper and ex-Sunshine Queen, Lucky Andy, scramble to clear her line but former Rivers Angels player Winifred Eyebhorie, pounced and tucked away for the hosts, scoring the first goal of the season.
The visitors kept piling the pressure after going behind until their persistence paid off with a Glory Ogbonna exquisite curler to level the score at 1-1 in the 31st minute.
Within a blink, Patricia Innocent produced a belter just outside the box in the 32nd minute and the crowd broke out in rapturous cheer. Sunshine Queens were firmly in control and leading 2-1.
Ibom Angels had it all to do in the second half as the hosts came out more strongly from the block, spotting a five-woman midfield to starve the visitors of chances.
A brave substitution from Coach Whyte brought in the speedy Uduakabong Peter, whose pace and trickery delighted the crowd and upset the Sunshine defense in equal measure. The collective lack of end product did the team nor scoreline no favors.
As the half slowly stretched towards the dying embers, both teams became leggy and the foul count increased immensely. It sprung into life with four minutes added after the 90, when Ibom Angels last gasp chances rattled the crossbar three times in quick succession.
Sunshine Queens did enough to see the game out with a 2-1 win and taking the top spot in Group A. Other teams from Group A and B will battle it out on the weekend of April 1.