Bendel Insurance of Benin on Saturday at the Goal Project football pitch, Abuja beat Junior Katsina United FC by convincing two goals to nil to advance to the round of 32 of the 2022 NFF/AITEO Cup.
The ‘Benin Arsenal’ stepped into the game, brewing with confidence after having just booked their place in the top flight of the Nigerian football league – the Nigeria Professional Football League.
Deputy Echeta almost put Insurance ahead in the 10th minute after he drove from the left flank and fired a shot, but his effort went wide of goal.
The newly promoted side to the NPFL took control of the game as they dictated the pace with a series of chances, from both flanks of the field through their tormentors in Chief, Deputy Echeta and Sarki Ismael who connected well with the three midfield marshals- Zaidu Ayuba, Maurice Prince and Stephen Sodje.
Moments later, Imade combined well with Ismael Sarki to set up Efe Enabulele upright as the right back rushed to hit a well-taken shot, but the goalkeeper kept the ball out of goal.
Bendel Insurance pushed further for the opener, but while doing that, Junior Katsina United took control of the midfield and put together two threatening attacks in quick succession but Anyanwu Sunday and Tanimu Benjamin held their ground to wade off the attack.
Insurance got back in action and initiated an attack – Deputy Echeta zoomed through the right flank and moved towards an acute angle, released a fine cross into the box for a well-positioned Imade who rose above his markers and headed home Insurance lead in the 36th minute.
Seconds before the end of the first half, Imade found a good pass from Zaidu Ayuba, dressed it well by sweeping out of the marker and hitting at goal, the ball rolled beneath the goalkeeper’s arm and bounces towards the goal, but was inches swayed off goal for a corner kick which resulted into nothing to end the first half.
Seven minutes into the second half of the game, Bendel Insurance doubled their lead after Deputy Echeta calmed himself in the box to connect with Zaidu Ayuba’s cross, he trapped his ball and created a comfortable room to slot home the second goal for his side in the 52nd minute.
Junior Katsina United made five changes in a space of 20 minutes to force something out, but
Bendel Insurance kept on piling up more pressure to get the game sealed up.
Coach Monday Odigie made three substitutions for Bendel Insurance as
Deputy Echeta, Zaidu Ayuba and Ismael Sarki made way for Taiwo Oripelaye, Meyinwa Oritseweyinmi and Oluka Ngia respectively in the 71st minute.
The three substitutes made massive contributions with more bites to their attack, but they remain wasteful to add to the word of their tired opponents.
The three times champions played out the remaining minutes of the game with some interesting show of skills to the merriment of the crowd at the FIFA Goal Project of the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja.
With this victory, Bendel Insurance is through to the round of 32 of the AITEO Cup and would play the winners between Otasollo FC and Abia Warriors on a date to be announced by the NFF.
Photos: Ayoola Adeleke