By Solomon Nwoke
Imo Grasshoppers yesterday proved why they are famous handball team in the country as they defeated eastern rival, Abia Valiants 32-15 to remain unbeaten in the concluding phase of the Prudent Energy Handball League taking place at the Mobolaji Johnson Sports Complex, Rowe Park, Yaba.
Both sides had old and experienced players whose mobility was hampered by age but it was Grasshoppers that got their rhythm early in the game. They broke down the Valiants and made use of the scoring chances that came their way.
Valiants, on the other hand, were lethargic and had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping the scorline slightly respectable. As the game wore on, Grasshoppers’ Coach, Justina Akpulo introduced the younger players who closed out the game in stunning fashion.
Fans, who came to see both sides rekindle their rivalry were disappointed as the Valiants offered little resistance to Grasshoppers’ dominance.
On the other hand, Owena Queens of Akure shocked Seasiders Babes 29-24 in the opening game yesterday. The Seasiders were led for most part of the game and were five goals better with few minutes to the end of the game.
However, the Queens regrouped, sized the initiative with good offensive and defensive displays to stun the Lagos team and their teaming fans.
Seasiders coach, Bukola Duru described the game as intense and promised that her team would do better in subsequent games.
Speaking, Coach Akpulo said that her team was at the championship to remain Nigeria’s best. He said that the experience of the older players would be vital as the young players would also benefit from their more illustrious teammates.
She noted that her team is a household name that is ready to include more young players in its fold as it prepares to continue her dominance in the local scene.
Also, in the men’s category, Plateau Vipers of Jos defeated D Defenders of Abuja in one of the exciting games played yesterday at the Prudent Energy Handball League currently going on at the Mobolaji Johnson Sports Complex, Yaba.
The Vipers had the better of the early exchanges, but the D Defenders rallied to win the first stanza 14-13. At the resumption of the second stanza, both teams came out strong and thrilled the fans were their sublime skills. However, it was the Vipers who stood strong to win the game.
In other games played, Sokoto Rima defeated Prison K-Boys 23-17, Safety Babes defeated Kada Queens 23-19, while Kada Stars beat Borno Spiders 31-23.
Safety Babes coach, Bala Mohammed said he was happy with the victory. He said he had to rotate his players so that they can all remain fresh and injury free as the he prepare for the crucial stages of the tournament.
“It is true that we lost grip towards the end of the game, but we had to introduce other players so that the establish players can have some rest and be fresh for the later stages of the league. I am sure we have the chance to do better as the league progresses.”