Delta Queens dethrone Bayelsa Queens to win sixth Nigerian women's league diadem

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Delta Queens have won their sixth Nigerian Women's Football League Premiership title after beating holders Bayelsa Queens 2-1 at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State on Sunday.

The Nigerian title holders and 2022 CAF Women's Champions League bronze winners made an inspiring start to their title defense with Chisom Henry's own goal in the 14th minute.

The hosts' push for a fightback came through as they were gifted a penalty when Bayelsa captain Igwe Uzoamaka brought down Delta forward Mercy Omokwo in the 45th minute.

However, Bayelsa escaped having their lead canceled when Fehintola Mabokanje failed to make the chance count for the home side as she missed the resulting penalty kick.

After the restart, coach Tosan Blankson introduced Chinaza Agoh and Inyang Esther as replacements for Olabiyi Folajomi Alaba and Sandra Johnosi, and the changes paid off.

Substitute Agoh scored an acrobatic goal to level matters for Delta in the 67th minute as Bayelsa conceded their first goal after two clinical wins over Robo Queens and Rivers Angels.

Four minutes from regulation time, Agoh scored the late stunning winner for the Asaba-based side as Delta held on to claim its sixth league title and its first since 2011.

The triumph saw Delta seal the sole Nigerian ticket to the WAFU-B qualifiers for the 2023 TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions League and become the third different team to represent the country on the continent in three years.

Reflecting on the botched Nigerian title bid, Bayelsa Queens technical adviser, Domo Okara said: "We came up with a plan to win the match but we lost. We cannot win every game.

"I wish the winners the best of luck. We lost some attackers. Some of them have traveled to Europe. The only area where we had challenges was in attack. "We would go and prepare and bounce back next season. I wish Delta Queens the best of luck."

Recounting their triumphant success, Delta Queens manager Tosan Blankson said: "I want to thank the players first. We know that God is always there for everybody but I want o thank the players first for the intense pressure in the game. 

"We have been preparing for the NWFL Premiership Super Six even before the end of the regular season. Don't be surprised at what you have seen in the regular season and Super Six is the same thing you would see during continental matches. 

"Football is all about planning. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We knew the first half is going to be tough for us so we have to keep Chinaza (Agoh) outside. When she came in, she was fresh and gave us the desired goals."

Champions Delta Queens bagged 10 million naira - twice Bayelsa's booty received last term and Nigerian FA scribe Muhammed Sanusi lauded the exciting final and feat of Delta. 

"The game was very exciting. I have always said that women's football in Nigeria has come of age. What a man can do, a woman can do better. We have seen the display of skills, stamina, endurance, and everything," Sanusi told CAFOnline.com.

"Thanks to Delta State Government for sponsoring this competition and to the fans in Delta State for coming all out to watch women's football. With this kind of display and artistry in football, in the future, you would see corporate organizations come to sponsor the league and women's football.

"It's not all about Delta Queens but about the team representing Nigeria now and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will do everything possible to support them, especially in the area of technical and logistics support which NFF would help. We have always called on our teams on the do's and don't in the continent."

On individual awards, Delta Queens scooped all the plagues, as Mercy Omokwo who scored nine goals for Delta Queens clinched the top goalscorer award, while Mgbechi Anderline won the best goalkeeper of the season. 

Chinaza Agoh was named the Most Valuable Player of the season award following her brace-scoring impact off the bench in Delta Queens' triumph over Bayelsa Queens.