Lions fire blank in Celecal stalemate
The selection

3 players, Afolabi Adeyina, Oluwatobi Dahunsi and Sunday Emmanuel made their return from the sidelines after being out for a few weeks. Afolabi and Oluwatobi earned a spot in the starting lineup while Sunday Emmanuel could only start from the reserves.

Emmanuel Yakubu was trusted with the goalkeeping affair. Young right back Miracle Edwin started from the right wingback position, while Omolade Ibitayo started from the left.

Bobola Ojo and Skipper Lekan Ajeyomi partnered in central defence while Afolabi Adeyina and Omotayo Ayodele partnered in midfield with Oluwatobi Dahunsi in attacking midfield. The trio of Opeyemi Michael, Amaechi Sunday and Lekan Arifayan got the nod in attack.

The experienced players offered a solid foundation, which allowed the younger squad members to express themselves more freely and attack fearlessly, giving the team an added edge in the game.

First half

The game started with both sides treading with caution and waiting to create an opening. However, the Lions were lucky not to fall behind through miscommunication at the back. Miracle Edwin attempted a back pass to Emmanuel Yakubu in goal but Emmanuel made up for the error just in time to save for a corner kick.

In the 17th minute, Lekan Arifayan broke free on the right wing and attempted a square pass to Omolade’s path who was waiting to latch home but a defender intervened just in time to clear the ball to safety. Lekan Arifayan again almost gave us the breakthrough but his effort was saved by the goalkeeper with Opeyemi Michael failing to score from the rebound as well to end the first 45 minutes with a stalemate. Despite their best efforts, the attackers were unable to find the back of the net. The defender’s timely intervention, the goalkeeper’s quick reflexes, and Opeyemi Michael’s inability to capitalize on the rebound all contributed to the score remaining at 0-0 by the end of the first half.

Second half

The gaffer made 5 changes at the break and the Lions picked up from where they left off in the first half. The Lions’ momentum was still strong after the break and the five changes energized them. Opeyemi had two great chances to score in the second half, but he failed to capitalize on them. This could have been the difference between winning and losing the game. The Lions should have scored the first goal in the 56th minute but Opeyemi Michael couldn’t score even though he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Opeyemi was once again the culprit in the 65th minute as his free header was off target and failed to test the goalkeeper.

Emmanuel Yakubu however had to pull up an excellent save in the 75th minute to prevent the Lions from going behind. The save was a crucial one as the opposing team had launched a dangerous attack with the ball bouncing dangerously in the penalty box. Yakubu was able to keep a level head and dive to make the save, ensuring the tie ended without any goal being scored.

What’s next?

The Lions will be up against Choice FC in another friendly contest on Monday to further intensify preparations for the FA Cup opener on Thursday.

Wonderxchange (4-3-3): Emmanuel, Lekan Ajeyomi, Bobola, Miracle (Sunday 46), Omolade, Afolabi, Omotayo(Haruna 46), Oluwatobi (Mighty 46), Amaechi (Dotun 46), Lekan A. (Musa 46), Opeyemi.

Unused subs: Tope, Peter, Michael, Romeo, Victor, Onome, Seun, Habeeb, Bonny, Mathias, Osasu, Femi, Abednego, Olayemi, Chinedu, Oloore, Oluwaseun.

Booked: Omotayo 15, Dotun 58, Mighty 67, Bobola 80, Sunday 88.