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19th NSF: Rivers avoid handball upset in 25-25 draw with Imo, Delta survive Niger

File photo of a female handball game

The Rivers female handball team required two late goals to draw 25-25 with Imo on Saturday at the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) in Abuja.

The Imo team started the game well at the Handball Open Courts of Abuja National Stadium’s Package B on Day 3 of the NSF.

They dominated proceedings in the first half, with Emeribe Melody helping the side to a 12-11 first half lead.

However, Rivers bounced back in the second half, with Maryam Usman controlling the game while Ada Okey was doing the scoring.

In spite of their enterprise, however, Team Imo retained a two-goal lead, thanks to Melody and Ezinne Onyemaechi who had a total of 14 goals between them.

However, the Rivers ladies bounced back in the dying minutes of the match, with Imo conceding two goals in two minutes to Okey and Ego Nwabuia.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that but for the late goals conceded, Imo would have celebrated a big victory against a side with the core of the national team.

Speaking with NAN after the game, captain of the Imo side, Chidinma Anosike, admitted that it was a fair draw against a good side.

“It was a great game by two good sides. Rivers are a great side with so many national handball team members.

“In the end, it was a good game. We need to work on our shooting for the next game because if you don’t score, you can’t win games.

“We also have to work on our defence and stamina,” she said.

For a team which boasts of many national team players, the Rivers ladies put up a subdued performance and were lucky to record a draw.

This much was admitted by Usman, one of their top players, who pointed out that they were a bit behind on their pace.

“The match ended in a draw, but we are coming back stronger in the next game.

“This is our first match and we were a bit heavy. We need to get better and work on our defence. By our standard, we were very poor today,” she told NAN.

In a men’s event game decided earlier, Team Delta defeated Niger 24-20.

Niger ended the first half leading 9-8, with Shehu Aliyu rampaging the Delta defence.

Delta however overturned the deficit, through the combined efforts of Jacob Ayuba and Don Emenike.

Niger will now have to do better in terms of goalscoring in their next match, as only Anas Mohammed was able to manage three goals, aside from Aliyu who had 10. (NAN)


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