It was a thrilling opening for fans at the Remo Stars stadium in Ikenne, Ogun State for the second domestic pre-season tournament organized by Value Jet which included eight clubs with seven teams from the NPL and 1 academy side.
Asides from the games played on the pitch, about ₦300,000 cash prize was also dolled out for the three Man of the Match awardees produced by Sporting Lagos, Shooting Stars, and Kwara United, as MatchDay 1 was everything to savor.
Kwara United’s defender Musa Afeez, Shaibu Abdulrasaq of Sporting Lagos, and Shooting Stars’ goalie Ovunda Darlintin were all recipients of the award, following their individual contributions on the pitch.
Nine goals were scored across three games, as two of those ended in 1-1 draws, while Heartland and Sporting Lagos dished out a five-goal thriller with the Lagos-based side recording the first and only win of the competition thus far.
Goals from Ikenna Offor in the 42nd minute for Kwara United, and Alimi Sikiru’s 57th-minute strike from within the box for Remo Stars settled the case in the opening fixture in Ikenne.
Afterward, Heartland Football Club and Sporting Lagos dished out a 2-3 scoreline with four goals coming from the penalty spot.
Agucho Ugochukwu of Heartland handled the ball with his hand as early as the 11th minute as Isaac Annor calmly scored from the spot, as the Lagos-based club led going into the break.
Five minutes into the second half, Udeozor Ikechukwu hacked down Shaibu Abdulrazaq in the box as the referee pointed to the spot in favor of Sporting Lagos, as Emeka Nwokeji converted for the double.
Arum Kingsley then scored a penalty to pull one back for Heartland resulting from a cynical foul on Omaka Fabian by the Sporting Lagos goalkeeper, Agbor Ekoi who got sent off in the 70th minute.
Going into the last ten minutes of the game, Sporting Lagos was awarded a third spot-kick in the 86th minute as Emeka Nwokeji bagged his brace after converting the penalty to make it 1-3.
On the stroke of regulation time, Ori Elvis put a fine header past Sporting Lagos’ goalkeeper to make it a respectable 2-3 scoreline.
In the third game of the day, Shooting Stars played a 1-1 draw against the only academy side of the competition, Beyond Limits, with Onyebuchi Obasi striking inside the 18-yard box to beat Ovunda in the 16th minute for Beyond Limits before Kayode Oke restored parity in the 80th.
Onyebuchi Obasi missed a penalty from the spot for Beyond Limits that may have won the tie, however, Alex Aghahowa of Shooting Stars got sent off right on the 90th-minute mark.