Sunshine Stars have retained their Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) status courtesy of a 4-2 win over MFM of Lagos in a pulsating Southwest derby and last game of the regular season at the Ondo State Sports Complex.
The Akure Landlords saw their survival chance hang in the balance on the final matchday which midfield maestro, Dayo Ojo chose to shine like a million stars for his boyhood club.
A hat trick for the midfielder plus another smash from Anthony Omaka were enough to guarantee the safety and end the Olukoya boys’ hope of a playoff position.
After a minute silence in honour of Lobi Stars coach and former Sunshine Stars gaffer, Solomon Ogbeide, who died on matchday 21, Sunshine took the game as a matter of urgency and their early pressures paid off as they were awarded two penalty kicks for handball and foul inside twenty-five minutes.
Dayo Ojo stepped up on both occasions and dispatched past the goalkeeper with clamless and sense of assurance to put the Owena Whales up by two goals.
MFM reduced the deficit midway through the first half through Alade Balogun, but it only pushed Sunshine Stars to add the third on the stroke of halftime, courtesy of Anthony Omaka who captained the coach Kabiru Dogo charges against his former side and neighbourhood club.
The visitors dictated the tempo in the opening minutes of the second half and were rewarded with another goal against the run of play through Chijioke Akuneto who powered home a fierce shot in the 57th minute.
Nonetheless, the hosts finished off the job in the last minute of regulation time play through Dayo Ojo who found space inside the opponent’s area and dribbled his way clear on goal before firing into the top corner with his left foot to complete his hat trick.
Sunshine Stars finished the season on 29 points with eight wins, nine losses and five draws scoring 23 goals and also conceding 22 goals in the process.