NPFL: Dayo Ojo Hattrick Saves Sunshine From Relegation
MFM FC could not produce enough fire power to beat Sunshine Stars who pulled off a big performance in a 4-2 win over the visitors on the final day of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) regular season.
Midfield maestro, Ekundayo Ojo, who was voted the man of the match, grabbed a hat-trick in the Matchday 22 encounter which was played at the Akure Township Stadium on Sunday.
The victory means Sunshine Stars avoided relegation and would campaign in the 2019/2020 NPFL season but for MFM it ended their aspiration of playing in the Super-6.
The hosts began the match on a high tempo, as they dictated most of the proceedings in the early stage of the match before the visitors settled in gradually.
Anthony Omaka who captained the Akure side, had two early chances wasted in the second and fifth minute leaving many anxious fans at the stadium frustrated with a couple of them holding their heads in despair.
Seun Olulayo forced MFM goalkeeper Olatunji Odekunle to a big save in the 15th minute from a free kick as the stopper stretched to the limit to parry to corner.
The referee Imam Malik awarded a penalty to the hosts in the 16th minute, when an MFM defender was ruled to have handled the ball in his goal area.
Ọjo scored the first of his hat-trick in the 18th minute from the spot and doubled the lead seven minutes later from another penalty when Fuad Ekelojuoti was rough handled in the penalty area.
Five minutes later, Alade Balogun halved the home side’s lead when he followed up on a quick play from a free kick near the Sunshine Stars edge of the box and curled it into the top corner of the net to make it 2-1.
Sunshine Stars would have restored the two-goal cushion in the 34th minute when Daniel Barnabas freed Omaka in the MFM box, but the latter missed the huge opportunity to the frustration of the fans at the stadium.
Sunshine Stars head coach, Kabiru Dogo in a bid to add bite up front, replaced Barnabas with Kolade Adeniji in the 40th minute, and the attacker gave MFM captain, Austin Opara some tough time since after coming.
Omaka restored Sunshine Stars’ two-goal lead just before half-time to douse the tension at the Akure Township Stadium going into the break.
MFM restarted the second half better than the way they ended the first and were rewarded for their good performance in the 57th minute, when Chijioke Akuneto fired in a shot from a deflected effort off Akanni Elijah’s attempt to make it 3-2.
Ekelojuoti and Omaka combined beautifully well in the 63rd minute in the MFM box but Omaka aimed his final touch into the sky.
Ojo completed his hat-trick of the match on 90 minutes when he calmly rounded more than two MFM defenders before burying in the opportunity, and sent the arena into frenzy. Immediately he became the fans’ favourite player as his performance draw a huge applause after the end of the match.