Akwa United became the first team to clinch a semi-final ticket at the ongoing Naija Super 8 tournament, after beating Rivers United 1-0 in a keenly contested South-South derby, at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos, on Monday.
The result sent Rivers United out of the competition, after losing their opening two matches in Group B.
Rivers United were the better side for majority of the first half, but failed to fashion a clear scoring opportunity despite enjoying majority of the possession. Lukman Adefemi came close to breaking the deadlock, but could not direct his shot on target from a tight angle.
Akwa United came out better in the second half, and scored what proved to be the match winner in the 58th minute through Uche Collins. Cyril Olisema had an opportunity to double the lead three minutes later, but put his shot wide from the edge of the six yard box. The Uyo boys were able to hold on to the advantage to book the semi-final slot.
In his post match interview, Akwa United coach, Fatai Osho, said his side can now begin to think of winning the tournament. “This victory is a good one for us. The aim was to qualify for the semi-finals. Now it is time to get more from the competition by going for the cup. If you are in the semi-finals, you have the chance to win. Now we have the opportunity to give other players a chance to show what they can do in the last match,” he said.
In the first match of the day, Lobi Stars and Yobe Desert Stars played out a goalless draw in a cagey encounter. The match produced little goal scoring chances, as most of the action took place in the middle of the park.
The closest both teams came to a goal was in the 90th minute when Lobi Stars goalkeeper, Lucky Jimoh, parried a powerful header over the bar, to deny Yobe Stars a late winner.
Reacting to the result of the match, Yobe Desert Stars coach, Emmanuel Olowo, said his boys played out the plan. “For this game, we told the boys to keep it together at the back, that as much as they want to score, they should not concede. This is the kind of game you don’t want to lose because if you do, you are out. The boys did their best. This point gives a slight hope of qualification,” he said.
With the results, Akwa United sit top of Group B with six points. Lobi Stars are second with four points, Yobe Desert Stars are third with one point.
Action will continue in the Naija Super 8 on Tuesday with a South-West derby between Sporting Lagos and Remo Stars, starting at 2pm, followed by Katsina United vs Enyimba International at 4:30pm.
Naija Super 8 is organised by Flykite Productions in partnership with MultiChoice Nigeria and sponsors, MTN, Hero Lager, DStv, GOtv, SuperSport, Moniepoint,
Pepsi and Custodian Assurance.