Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin have retained the Edo Football Association Cup championship title after a thrilling 3-1 triumph over Ine Stars of Benin on Sunday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.

Notably, the Benin Arsenals approached the match with Ine Stars as both State and National defending champions. Recall that last year, Bendel Insurance defeated its Feeder team 3-0 to emerge champions.

Evans Ogbonda, a left back turned midfielder played a pivotal role in inspiring the team to victory over the resilient amateur side in the final match, scoring twice to secure the win for Insurance FC.

Ogbonda broke the deadlock for the Benin Arsenals in the 36th minute with a composed header, connecting perfectly with a precise cross from Dede Moughara on the left flank, thus overcoming Ine Stars’ resistance.

Coach Greg Imhenoba, dissatisfied with both the performance and the result, implemented changes and tactical adjustments at the start of the second half. He substituted Divine Meyinwa with Obata and later introduced Meyinwa Oritseweyimin, who made an immediate impact by chipping in the ball to make the score line 2-0 in the 72nd minute.

The amateur side also made notable substitutions, including former Insurance midfield star Odumosun Bayo, whose through pass set up Peter Aluanda to pull a goal back in the 81st minute, reigniting hope for Ine Stars.

In the 84th minute, Insurance strengthened their performance, dominating possession. Captain Efe Enabulele’s precise pass split the defense, bypassing Ine Stars’ goalkeeper and setting up Evans Ogbonda with a clear opportunity to fire a close-range shot into the net. The goal sparked wild celebrations among the Insurance fans.

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Following the victorious match, Bendel Insurance coach Greg Ikhenoba, leading the team in the absence of his boss Monday Odigie, attributed his team’s victory to divine intervention. He emphasized that Bendel Insurance FC is still a work in progress.

“I give God the glory for our success.

“In a game like this, when you play against the underdogs, it can be challenging,” Greg stated.

“We anticipated a tough match because many of the Ine Stars players are former Insurance players, and some others had trials with Insurance before. They know us and would want to make a statement,” coach Greg elaborated on the game’s dynamics.

Similarly, Ine Stars head coach Asemota Precious expressed his satisfaction with finishing as silver medalists and qualifying for the National FA Cup contest.

“We knew the battle wouldn’t be easy, but we were prepared to give Insurance a tough fight, at least to avoid a humiliating defeat, and I commend my boys for their resilience,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Bendel Insurance FC have maintained their stronghold on the Edo FA Cup trophy, remaining undisputed champions since 2019.