By Sedara Philip
The maiden NAIJA SUPER 8 Playoffs have been concluded at the Eket stadium in Akwa Ibom state with Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin narrowly losing the South-South ticket for the off season tournament proper to Rivers Utd by 3-2 but the sterling performance of the Benin Arsenals and the stunning goal scored by their intelligent midfielder Ini-Obong Okon still resonate in the country’s football space.
Ini Obong,a graduate of Insurance Feeders team who came into the game as second half substitute threw the spectators at the Eket stadium into ecstatic mood with his spectacular strike and restored parity for the Benin Arsenals in the 70th minute of play, leaving the scoreline at 2-2 until 92 minutes.
The sublime goal of Ini Obong is now the talk of the town as the organisers of the NAIJA SUPER 8 and their technical committee did not allow the world class goal uncelebrated but adjudged the beautiful goal as the best goal of the NAIJA SUPER 8 playoffs with a special recognition and cash prize of Hundred Thousand Naira and invitation to the NAIJA SUPER 8 draws.
The announcement of Ini Obong as the NAIJA SUPER 8 playoffs ambassador on Monday was well received by Bendel Insurance family.
“Congratulations to Ini-Obong Okon, the Bendel Insurance of Benin City star who scored the beautiful goal that has been adjudged best at the just concluded NAIJA Super 8 playoffs in Eket.
As reward, he gets N100k, a ball and medal. In addition, he has an all expense paid round trip for the NAIJA Super 8 draw holding on Thursday in Lagos. It will be live on AfricaSportsOn on Supersport 209 and Gotv 64 from 7:30pm. He will join Victor Ikpeba to conduct the draw.” says Naija Super 8 organisers.
Ini’s goal came after his introduction as substitute in the 68 minute of play as he got a ball deflected to his side and like a good tailor, he perfectly measured Albert Korvah and released a half-volley that zoomed through the right corner of the net to level up for Insurance FC. The stunning strike left Rivers United’s and Super Eagles goalkeeper,Victor Sochima motionless.
A late-minute penalty kick converted by Maurice Chukwu gave Rivers United the winning goal to see off a compact Bendel Insurance FC on Sunday evening at the Eket stadium and booked a place in the maiden Naija Super 8 tournament proper billed for Lagos in July.
Bendel Insurance went into the game still basking in the euphoria of the Federation Cup triumph over Rangers International of Enugu, featuring their second string team mixed with fresh graduands from their Feeders.
In a postmatch interview, Insurance Assistant Coach Greg Ikhenoba said his boys gave a good account of themselves having put up an heroic fight against former league champions but were only unlucky to have conceded a late penalty.
Also speaking, the award winning goal scorer Ini-Obong Okon expressed sadness over the loss suffered by his club after his stunning goal. He thanked his Akwa-Ibom family for their support.