By Our Staff Reporter
Ibom Angels took a big step towards qualifying for the final of the Aiteo Cup after they claimed a 2-0 win over Abia Angels in the semi-final first leg at the Nest of Champions on Wednesday.
A first-half strike from in-form Blessing Okpe and substitute Unyime Johnson’s superb finish handed the hosts a deserved win.
It was Abia Angels who started off the match on the front foot, dominating possession in the opening 15 minutes, with the home side struggling to come out of their own half. The Umuahia side could not make their early dominance count, though. They got close to scoring only once, when Vivian Ikechukwu connected with Mary Opara’s delivery from a corner.
On 16 minutes, Okpe and Charity Reuben combined to produce a moment of magic – the regular season’s top scorer, whose overall performance during the afternoon should worry coach Ogbonda Whyte, sent a stunning back-heel pass to the winger. Goalkeeper Monle Omini brilliantly pushed the no 8’s curling shot over the cross bar for a cornerkick, but that moment turned the tide in Ibom Angels’ favour.
The Uyo side pressed high, went hunting in numbers – and it was no surprise when Okpe scored the opener. The former COD Ladies player squeezed the ball past Omini despite slipping as she latched onto a pass.
Unyime Johnson doubled the lead six minutes after replacing the largely ineffective Reuben. The forward controlled with her right before finding the bottom corner of the far post with a left-footed shot from 16 yards.
Speaking to 234football after the match, coach of the away team, Ann Chiejine, said her team can still make it to the final despite the loss.
“Anything can happen in the game of football,” she said.
The former Nigeria international goalkeeper admitted that the hosts played well.
“They did well. Any team that qualified to play in the semi-finals is a good team.”
The two sides will continue their fight for a place in the final, with the second leg of the tie in Umuahia on Saturday•