Niger Tornadoes started life after Bernard Ogbe with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sunshine Stars in a Matchday 7 game of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) played at the Bako Kontagora Stadium in Minna on Wednesday.
An Awwal Tanko solitary strike in the 13th minute was all Tornadoes needed to get their first win of the season.
Veteran coach Ogbe left Tornadoes last week after a spate of bad results and caretaker coach Hamza Abara rang changes in the Tornadoes line-up with as many as seven fresh faces in the starting line-up.
Tornadoes had most of the early exchanges with the lively Tanko troubling Sunshine Stars defence led by Seun Sogbeso.
The silky forward was on hand to receive a pass from right back Mustapha Jibrin before going round Sunshine goalkeeper Ariyo to slot into the net in the 13th minute to give his side the lead.
Ariyo kept Sunshine in the game with saves off the feet of Chidera Christopher and Abashiya Gyemini while there was little joy for Sunshine Stars attackers who could not deal with Tornadoes high line as they kept being picked offside.
Just before the break, Tanko had a chance to double the score for Tornadoes but he placed his header acres wide with the Sunshine goal at his mercy.
Sunshine had a few chances in the second half as Sunday Abe and Anthony Omaka all had pops at the Tornadoes goalkeeper Aliko Mustapha who saved on both occasions.
Omaka, who was brilliant in the game, picked up a second yellow and was sent off which effectively took the wind out of Sunshine Stars.
Niger Tornadoes caretaker coach Hamza Abara attributed the win to the zeal and desire to get Tornadoes out of the relegation places.
“It was a hard fought win and I give kudos to my boys. It wasn’t easy at all because we have been having bad results
in the last few weeks,” Abara told npfl.ng.
“We want to use this result as a spring board to relaunch our season and hopefully get the results on board. The boys are determined to change their destiny.
“Hopefully we will get back to winning ways. We have been putting in a lot at training and I’m sure our hard work will pay off eventually.”
Niger Tornadoes have now leaped three places and are now 9th on the Group A log with six points from six games.
Niger Tornadoes: Mustapha Aliko (c); Jibrin Mustapha, Mohammed Goyi, Adetola Ayo, Gwaza Iorliam, Mushinu Attahiru, Chidera Christopher (Eric Frimpong), Moses Ugwu (Ahmadu Liman), Sarki Ismaila (Osondu Jonathan), Abashiya Gyemini, Tanko Awwal
Subs not used: Innocent Ndem; Nwobodo Obinna, Emmanuel Atsen, Mohammed Abubakar
Sunshine Stars: David Ariyo; Sunday Abe (c), Alaba Adeniyi, Seun Sogbeso, Kehinde Adeyemi; Anthony Omaka, Jide Fatokun, Dayo Ojo; Peter Ibe (Esosa Igbinoba 82′), Israel Abia (Chibundu Amah 44′), Seun Olulayo (Fuad Ekeljuoti 50′)
Unused Subs: Ayo Ojo; Tope Akande, Chigozie Obasi, Ayo Adepoju
Man of the Match: Adetola Ayo (Niger Tornadoes)