Akwa Starlets earned themselves a first-in-history elite division promotion after a domineering yet embarrassing 3-0 despatch of Nigerian football household name, Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan.

The match, which was one of four one-off NNL end-of-season promotion playoff, was played before a vociferous capacity crowd at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, Monday.

Akwa Ibom State will now have two teams in the Nigerian league.

Shooting Stars finished top of Group B1 while Starlets emerged winners of Group B2 in the regular NNL season to book a playoff berth.

Femi Ajayi capitalized on a poor defensive zonal marking in the opposition box in the nineteenth minute to head home and opened the flood gates from an Imoh Obot corner kick.

Five minutes later, while Shooting were still seeing stars the bulky forward took his season’s tally to six when he combined well with Spencer Bassey to elude his marker before unleashing a ferocious pile-driver with his weaker left foot from just outside the box and send the baying crowd into frenzy – his second of the pulsating encounter.

The icing on a hugely tasty cake was the best of the pick when the undoubted discovery of the season, Isaac George, combined speed, agility, guile and impeccable accuracy to score from 45 yards which caught goalkeeper Lucky Jimoh admiring its trajectory all the way in.

With three minutes left on the clock Starlets then resorted to entertaining the crowd with swashbuckling and mind-boggling interchange of accurate passes to kill off what of left of a pretty one-sided match.

The blast of the referee’s whistle, after an additional five agonizing minutes, then put Shooting Stars out of their misery and confirmed Starlets’ new NPFL status.

Elsewhere, Adamawa United and Jigawa Golden Stars made sure there wouldn’t be any top flight football in the Nation’s capital, Abuja, when they defeated both FRSC FC and NAF FC in that order while Warri Wolves needed penalties to see off the challenge of Dynamite FC of Iyamo.

All of Akwa Starlets, Warri Wolves, Adamawa United and Jigawa Golden Stars will now be involved in the NNL Super-4 tournament to decide the overall Champions of the NNL from August 31 in Asaba.

Edidiong STEPHEN
July 22, 2019. Asaba.