Juliet Sunday scored early in the second half as Rivers Angels edge South-South rivals Ibom Angels 1-0 to win the 2018 AITEO Cup Women’s final on Tuesday afternoon.
Sunday netted from close range – her second goal in as many matches – after Ibom defenders failed to deal with Cecilia Nku’s corner kick in the 47th minute in what turned out to be the only goal in the final decided at the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
After a rather tentative start to the game by both teams, Ibom Angels went close twice in the 17th minute. First, Uduakobong Peter’s free kick was expertly tipped over by Rivers goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie before Ibom captain Glory Ogbonna headed over from the resulting corner.
That sparked a busy first half for both teams as Ibom’s impressive right back Glory Edet fired over from range in the 20th minute before Rivers striker Rofiat Sule tested Lucky Andy in goal for Ibom at the other end.
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Both teams have goals chalked off for offside in the first period. Vivian Ikechukwu (Rivers Angels) saw her header ruled out for a marginal offside call while Ibom were denied eight minutes before the half time interval when Emem Essin tucked home a rebound after Edet’s free kick had come off the foot of the post.
At half time, there were thoughts of both teams heading for a stalemate once again after Rivers won the 2017 final against this same opponent on penalty shootouts but the Jewel of Rivers showed instant determination to win it in regulation time after the restart.
Within seconds of getting the half uunderway, Sule who used to play for Bayelsa Queens was gifted a golden chance to put Rivers ahead but she was twice denied; initially by Ibom goalkeeper, Andy before her rebound was cleared off the line by Abidemi Ibe.
They were however not to be denied less sixty seconds later as Juliet kept her composure to finish with aplomb at the far post after Nku’s corner kick fell to her.
Ibom Angels almost draw level late on but Unyime Johnson’s header was cleared off the line by substitute defender Mary Ologbosere as the Edwin Okon coached side held on for their precious victory. That provided the final act on the game with centre referee Foluso Ajayi calling time on the final after one minute of stoppage time.
The final was attended by dignitaries and top government functionaries led by Bayelsa State governor Henry Seriake Dickson while the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) delegation was led by the President, Amaju Pinnick. Super Falcons coach, Thomas Dennerby was also among the over 5,000 spectators that saw the final.
Tuesday’s victory crowned Rivers Angels eighth Cup victory, winning the past five editions consecutively.
Rivers Angels lineup
35. Chiamaka Nnadozie 25. Mabel Effiom 13. Ifeoma Paulinus 4. Blessing Ezekiel 27. Evelyn Nwabuoku 9. Amaechi Ojini
29. Margaret Etim 15. Vivian Ikechukwu 10. Cecilia Nku (c) 17. Rofiat Sule 18. Juliet Sunday
22. Tochukwu Oluehi 28. Mary Ologbosere 19. Onyinyechi Ohadugha 24. Mary Saiki 32. Cynthia Aku 8. Amarachi Ojinma 7. Ibinabo Georgewill
Head Coach: Edwin Okon
Ibom Angels lineup
1 Lucky Andy 4 Glory Edet 3 Glory Ogbonna (C) 23 Uju Amanda 17 Ibe Abidemi 12 Fehintola Mabokanje 8 Blessing Okpe 15 Joy Enamino 11 Emem Essien 10 Celine Ottah 29 Uduakobong Peter
22 Nelly Ekeh 9 Precious Christopher 33 Ayo Omosuyi 34 Edewor Precious 26 Favour Uzor 14 Unyime Johnson 16 Blessing Edoho
Coach: Whyte Ogbonda