Lions powerless to resist Rhinos on slaught
The selection

The coach reverted back to a three-man defensive setup with Skipper Lekan Ajeyomi, Bobola Ojo and Seun Ojo all returning to the lineup.

Onome Adepoju and Omolade Ibitayo at both wingback positions. The three-man defensive setup allowed the team to be more aggressive in the attack, pushing forward with Adepoju and Ibitayo providing width and support on the flanks.

Femi Olofinjana who has been ever present in the tournament retained his spot in defensive midfield. He was joined by Dotun Olafisoye and Femi Ariyo in central midfield while Amaechi Sunday and lanky forward Mighty Aderibigbe were preferred to start in attack. Olofinjana, Olafisoye, and Ariyo formed a formidable midfield trio, providing solidity, creativity, and strength, while Sunday and Aderibigbe combined to form an exciting attacking force.

Sloppy half

It was an eventful 45 minutes in the contest as the game came to life almost immediately after it started. However, it was the Hollumy boys who threatened more and could have got the opening goal in the 7th minute but Emmanuel Yakubu kept the effort out with a big save while the crossbar also came to our rescue almost immediately. The momentum kept building as both teams looked determined to get on the scoresheet, with the Hollumy boys proving to be particularly threatening with their attacking play.

We had few chances of ours as well but Mighty just could not decide if to shoot in the 18th minute after working his way into the opponent’s area.

The hosts got the opener after the referee spotted a handball in the box by Omolade with Ridwan converting from the spot to gift them the lead in the 26th minute with the lead doubled before the break. The referee’s decision proved crucial as it allowed the hosts to gain the early advantage and put the pressure on their opponents, giving the hosts a two-goal cushion at half-time.

Too late

The Lions came into the game after the break much better than the first 45 minutes which was far too easy for the hosts but just could not make the few chances created count by being clinical in front of goal. Despite their strong start, the Lions were ultimately unable to get the goal their performance deserved, as their lack of clinical finishing in the final third cost them dearly.

Despite the Lions’ persistent attempts to clap back, it was the hosts who extended their lead in a controversial manner. The assistant referee initially raised his flag for offside before deciding to let play continue and allowed the goal to see out victory for the Rhinos while the Lions settled for a second place finish. The goal proved to be decisive, leaving the Lions heartbroken and unable to recover from the disappointment of seeing the game slip away from their grasp.

What’s next?

Tomorrow morning at 8:00am, the Lions take on Emalex FC in the final group game of the preseason tournament. The result of this match could decide which team advances to the final and has the chance to take the trophy home.

Wonderxchange (3-5-2): Emmanuel, Seun(Opeyemi 64), Bobola, Lekan, Onome(Osasu 88), Omolade, Femi(Omotayo 53), Dotun, Ariyo(Chinedu 56), Amaechi (Arifayan 88),(Musa 75), Mighty(Musa 64)

Unused subs: Tope, Tomisin, Romeo, Victor, Miracle.

Booked: Chinedu 85.