Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin showed strength and character on Thursday against former league champions Rivers United, as they were forced to a 1-1 draw by the Pride of Rivers on Match Day 16 of the Nigeria Premier Football League, played at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
Chisom Okereke put Insurance in front by hitting the back of the net of Rivers United in the 21st minute of play, opening his goal account for Insurance FC since joining the Benin Arsenals on loan from Enyimba FC this season.
The energetic Chisom Okereke seized on a loose ball in Rivers' area, following a fine line-breaking pass by Paul Obata from the left flank. He wasted no time jabbing the ball into the net to upset their hosts.
However, a defensive blunder by the Benin Arsenals in the 38th minute of play gave room for the hosts to come from behind, level up, and restore their pride before the halftime whistle.
The Pride of Rivers got their equalizer through their captain Nyima Nwagua in the 38th minute of play.
Both teams returned to the field for the remaining half, having already sized each other up. Coach Monday Odigie made quick substitutions to strengthen his midfield, bringing in the mercurial Divine Nwachukwu for Zaidu Ayuba. Nwachukwu's introduction proved positive, and his immediate impact brought inspiration to the team, making him indeed the missing rib in Insurance FC's midfield.
The Benin Arsenals now have 24 points and occupy the 7th position on the log after posting six wins, six draws, and four losses in the sixteen games played this season.
Insurance will return to Benin with their heads held high after ending the year on a positive note in Rivers.
The team will host Rangers International of Enugu on Saturday, January 6, 2024.
The head coach and Technical Director of Bendel Insurance FC, Monday Odigie, praised his boys for coming out strong against Rivers United.
"I want to thank the boys for their great performance. We played against a team playing on the continent.
"They are one of the best in the country," Odigie said, adding that there is still a lot of work to be done in his team going forward.