Saturday, October 15, 2011

Club Africain stun Sunshine at home

Nigeria Premier League (NPL) side, Sunshine Stars suffered a shock 0 – 1 home loss to Club Africain of Tunisia in the first leg of the Caf Confederation Cup semifinal in Ijebu-Ode on Saturday.

It is the first defeat suffered at home by Sunshine Stars in all competitions since November 2008.

The match was delayed for minutes due to heavy downpour but when it finally got underway, the Tunisians looked the more purposeful side with neat, short passes all over the pitch

Sunshine Stars put up a tepid display in the first half though the Akure Gunners will have the slippery playing turf to blame for this outing due to the rains.

Alexis Enam Mendomo of Club Africain sat in the middle of the park and made life difficult for Sunshine Stars, who reverted to route one football, which yielded no results.

The first real attack of the game came on 34 minutes when striker Ukeyima Akombo nearly put Sunshine Stars ahead with a header that was tipped out by Club Africain keeper, Aymen Ben Ayoub.

And within two minutes, Ibrahim Ajani nodded wide from a corner kick after he was left almost unmarked in the North African penalty area.

Sunshine Stars, however opted to switch style from long balls to short passes in the second half.

And inside nine minutes of the restart Club Africain took the lead through 23-year-old Chadian striker, Ezechel Ndouassel.

The Chadian was played through the middle of Sunshine Stars’ defence, which struggled to hold him off before he slipped the ball past a standing keeper Moses Ocheje.

Sunshine Stars responded well by exploiting pockets of spaces in the half of their opponents in pursuit of a goal.

Cletus Itodo on 61 minutes made a sharp turn in front of Club Africain’s box but his shot went off target while within seconds a quick exchange of passes between Ajani and Akombo failed to produce that one moment.

It continued to be a flurry of activities inside the half of Club Africain with Sunshine Stars looking next to score.

Ajani, Itodo and Dele Olorundare all came within range of putting Sunshine Stars back in the game.

On 81 minutes, Itodo thought he had scored for Sunshine Stars but the referee correctly struck his effort off after the ball squeezed through a patchy opening in the side net of Club Africain’s goal post.

And the Tunisians had one moment to kill off the game when Sunshine Stars were caught on the break and Ocheje was dribbled by Mehdi Ressaissi, who opted to take a dive in the box rather than stay on his feet to score what would have been a second for the away side.

Sunshine Stars will have a big task on their hands when they make the trip to Tunis in a fortnight for the return leg.

Federation Cup holders, Heartland were the last side to win at Sunshine Stars by a goal in a Nigeria Premier League (NPL) on November 23, 2008.

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