Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) returnees, Bendel Insurance of Benin City recorded a resounding victory Sunday as they shocked former champions, Akwa United 2-0 in the opening match of the 2022/2023 NPFL season at the Godswill Akpabio International stadium in Uyo.
The match watched by a sparse crowd was the only Week One match played as the league organisers had decided that the remaining matches in both groups should be played next weekend.
The Nigerian topflight which resumed after seven months hiatus is being played on an abridged format which most of the clubs initially opposed.
Akwa United, Bendel Insurance, Rangers, Enyimba, Nasarawa United, Kwara United, 3SC, El-Kanemi Warriors, Remo Stars and Gombe United are all in Group A.
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In yesterday’s match, the visiting Insurance took the lead in the 37th minute after Divine Nwachukwu ran through the right side of Akwa United’s defence and crossed the ball into the box for Imade Osehenkhoe to score the first goal of the 2023 NPFL season.
Stung into life by the opening goal, the host immediately fought back as they began to pile pressure on the defence of Insurance for an equaliser but it was the visitors who doubled their lead before the half time break as Ismael Seriki found the back of the net after keeper Godgift Elkanah failed to deal decisively with a corner kick.
On resumption, Akwa United threw everything at the Coach Monday Odigie tutored side in a bid to earn at least a point but the ‘Arsenal of Benin’ stood firm to run away with the maximum points.
Insurance will next travel up north to face last season’s runners-up, Plateau United in their second match while already embattled Akwa United travel to the east to take on former African champions, Enyimba.
Meanwhile, next weekend, other teams in the group will round up Week One matches as Plateau United host 3SC in Jos, Gombe United travel to Ibadan to battle Kwara United at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Nasarawa United welcome Enyimba to Jos while El-Kanemi Warriors journey to Ikenne to square up with Remo Stars.