The long awaited 2022/23 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) The season finally kicked off on Sunday with the only game of the day at the Nest of Champions, Uyo, between Akwa United and newcomers Bendel Insurance.

After 90 minutes of action, it was the newly promoted Seguros team that emerged victorious with a 2-0 scoreline over their hosts, Akwa United.

Sunday’s result was similar to the one obtained in last season’s opener when then-newly promoted Remo Stars came to Lagos and stunned MFM FC at Mobolaji Johnson Arena.

University of Benin (Uniben) graduate Imade Osehenkhoe scored the NPFL’s first goal of the season with a quick finish from midfielder Devine Nwachukwu in the 39th minute before Seriki Ismael doubled the lead for Arsenal Benin .

The game

Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was observed for the late former Akwa United Chairman Obong Isong, who passed away on December 2, 2022.

Both sides then cautiously began the fistfight for the first 10 minutes.

After sizing up in the early exchanges, Bendel Insurance were first to get a scoring opportunity from Ebuka Akobundu’s free kick in the 11th minute, but the effort failed to get past Akwa United’s wall.

The hosts then reciprocated in the 19th minute with a Moses Effiong corner that was saved by Bendel goalkeeper Amas Obasogie.

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The goalkeeper saved two more corners to deny the host the first goal.

Four minutes later, Akwa United’s James Arong headed a Moses Effiong corner wide, and on 25 minutes, Amas deflected James Ajako’s long-range shot for a corner.

Play was still barren after the half hour mark with the hosts testing the visitors on offense.

The hosts failed to score in the 35th minute after the combination of James Ajako and Moses Effiong went wide.

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Four minutes later, Bendel Insurance opened the scoring with Imade Osehenkhoe finishing Devine Nwachuku’s pass. Imade, a graduate of Uniben and a product of the Higher Institution Football League (HIFL), scored the first goal of the season.

The visitors then added the second goal two minutes before half-time through Ismael Seriki, who slotted the ball in after an early save by Akwa United goalkeeper Godsgift Elkanah.

The first-half trailing hosts were on a rescue mission in the second half and two minutes later, Ubong Friday’s header from an Onyekachi Nwaiwu cross was saved by Amas.

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The goalkeeper of Bendel Insurance, being the captain of the team, was the source of strength for Benin Arsenal. At 49′, Amas intervened with a header from Moses Effiong and the captain did not hesitate to deflect the goal attempt into a corner.

Although Akwa United pressured Insurance in the later stages of the game, they failed to manage even a consolation goal let alone earn a share of the spoils with the visitors.

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