Lobi Stars of Makurdi yesterday started their Naija Super 8 campaign with a 2-1 win over fierce rivals, Rivers United at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos.
The 1999 NPFL champions, Lobi Stars had begun the clash on a poor footing as they went behind in the 32nd minute after Albert Korvah had put the 2022 NPFL champions ahead.
Not deterred by the goals, Lobi sought a quick equaliser but Sochima Victor pulled off a possible save of the tournament to deny Uche Owansaye’s chip to keep the scoreline 1-0 to end the first half.
In the 72nd minute, Lobi Stars drew level with a beautiful strike from David Okoromi.
With the game tied at 1-1, both sides sought for the all-important goal which failed to materialise in regulation time.
However, the center referee had given extra seven minutes which was enough for Charles Chibuike to fire home in the 98th minute following a rather poor mistiming from Sochima.
In the earlier game, Akwa United started off on the right foot by defeating Yobe Desert Stars 2-1.
After 34 minutes, Chikwuebuka Anthony scored Akwa United’s first goal with a strong header from James Ajako’s corner delivery.
The goal rendered Yobe Desert Stars keeper Isa Ismail useless as the Akwa Ibom state wild card entrants took the lead.
Anthony’s first goal for Akwa United since joining from Rangers of Enugu was scored on this occasion.
Three minutes before halftime, Cyril Olisema scored the second goal for Akwa United with a beautiful finish from outside the box after the first goal inspired them to push for more.
After 50 minutes, Salomon Chigoziem outpaced two defenders and got into the box, but he was taken down and the referee awarded a penalty, which Cyril Olisema failed to convert.
In the 55th minute, Yobe Desert Stars tried a comeback when Emmanuel James struck a low free-kick into goalie Jean Afala’s lower right corner, cutting the lead to one.
Despite being given four extra minutes, Akwa United managed to hold on and begin the Naija Super 8 match with a victory.