New signing Isaac James scored one goal and assisted the winner as Remo Stars beat NPFL champions Enyimba 2-1 in the opening game of the Naija Super 8 at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena on Friday.
Despite being an off season tournament, the opening game between the two representatives of the country in next season’s CAF Champions League lived up to billing.
After few flashes from both ends, Remo took the lead after 20 minutes through James, who sliced the Enyimba defence open, before slotting home to the far corner beyond Olorunleke Ojo in the People’s Elephant goal.
The league champions, however, responded swiftly, thanks to Chisom Okereke’s sublime final touch on a deft pass from Nonso Nzediegwu to make score 1-1 at half-time.
Remo regained their lead in the 58th minute through wing-back, Seun Ogunribide, who tucked in the ball sent across the face of goal by James.
The striker beat Paschal Eze with pace and power on the right, before releasing Ogunribide, who slotted in to make it 2-1 for the Sky Blue Stars.
Enyimba mounted pressure in search of an equaliser for the remainder of the game but it was only temper that rose as chances went begging and the game ended 2-1 in favour of Remo Stars.
“This is an off-season competition. These boys have not rested. It showed today. I’m happy with my players, despite the loss. Traveling here makes it more difficult for us, compared to where Remo Stars came from. It’s not easy to start playing from September and it’s almost August. I’ve not had rest as well,” Enyimba manager, Finidi George, said.
“I’m not complaining, Remo Stars have also had the kind of season we had. We want to win every game as sportsmen. We have two matches and we will win those matches and qualify for the semi-finals,” he said.
Remo gaffer, Daniel Ogunmodede, said they gunned for revenge after Enyimba edged them to the league title.
“We came with a lot of grudge against Enyimba for denying us the league on goals difference. We played a very good team. They are bigger than us, they are a Champions League team. So, we saw this as preparation for the Champions League and we wanted to measure with the best. We are happy we are able to measure up to them today.”
The tournament continues (Saturday) today with Group B matches between Akwa United and Yobe Desert Stars at 2pm, followed by Rivers United vs Lobi Stars at 4:30pm.