Forward, Abel Eli ensured Ignatius Ajuru University of Education Port-Harcourt (IAUE) Minders boosted their chances of making the quarter-final of the 2022 of the Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL) after claiming an important 3-2 win away at Delta State University (DELSU) Titans, in Round 16.
Organized by Pace Sports and supported by StanbicIBTC, Bold, LIRS as well as Indomie Noodles, the tournament is in its fourth season.
IAUE Minders, under the guidance of David Egbiri, a former coach in the Nigerian toplight displayed their intentions from the start of the match decided at the DELSU Sports Complex.
Despite the early impressive display by the visitors, Reginald Okonjo hit target in the 26th minute to give the hosts the lead.
Thirteen minutes later, Eli stepped up with the equalizer for his side.
However, Okonjo registered his brace on the 42nd minute to give DELSU a 2-1 lead as both sides went for the interval.
Shortly after resumption of play, Eli hit his brace to level scores for IAUE Minders.
Eli was all over the DELSU Titans defenders and on the 84th minute, he was on target again to complete his hattrick.
In a post-match interview, Egbiri expressed readiness of IAUE Minders to progress from this stage of the competition.
“We are determined to play in the Super Four in Lagos this season and that is why we are doing everything possible this time as we remain hopeful,” he said.
Egbiri applauded the Vice-Chancellor and the school management for ensuring the team had a closed camp to boost preparation.
“Playing in the final remains our target,” he asserted.
DELSU Titans gaffer, Lucky Ajaino, said: “we lost to tactical decisions, but we will ensure that we correct that before the return leg in Port Harcourt.”
Other matches produced away victories in Kaduna and Makurdi, respectively, while the Ekiti Derby ended in favour of the hosts.
Isah Idris and Simeon Habka scored in both halves to give Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bravehearts a 2-0 win at KASU Crocs from Kaduna State University.
And it was a shock home defeat for HiFL maiden champion, UAM Tillers, who couldn’t stop current Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA) champions, UNILORIN Warriors, in Makurdi.
Mustapha Ogungbenro’s 14th minute goal was enough to give UNILORIN Warriors an important advantage ahead of the return leg.
EKSU Mountaineers from Ekiti State University defeated FUOYE Dazzlers 1-0 in the much anticipated Ekiti derby.
Teams will meet again during the return legs as action continues in Round 16.