Bayelsa State-sponsored Restoration Starlets, on Saturday evening, came from behind to defeat Ivory Coast’s Deportivo Academy 2-1 in the third place game of the Africa Youth Cup tournament.
The match played at the beautiful Estadio National in Praia, the capital city of Cape Verde, saw the Bayelsa lads put up a sterling performance to the admiration of the crowd.
Special Adviser to the Bayelsa Governor on Public Affairs, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, reported from Praia that the Ivorian young stars went ahead in the 20th minute of the game before Okere Wilson equalised from the spot in the closing moments of the first half.
The Starlets maintained their domination after the break with Wilson again putting his team ahead midway into the second half.
His twin strikes eventually proved to be the decider of the keenly contested encounter.
The Diepreye Teibowei-tutored boys were however full of praises for Governor Henry Seriake Dickson for the opportunity of participating in the tournament.
Captain Tarabina Biwerebo said Governor Dickson’s fatherly disposition has left an indelible mark on the team and on youths of the state.
He said the players deeply appreciate his support and encouragement, which made it possible for the Starlets to be part of the Cape Verde football showpiece.
“We are very thankful to our governor for giving us this opportunity. We are also happy that we are taking home a trophy to present to our sports loving governor to show our appreciation for his support and encouragement. We are very grateful to him,” Tarabina said.
The Commissioner for Sports Development and leader of delegation, Mr. Perekiye Buruboyefe, commended the players for their performance and discipline.
He said coming third in such a keenly contested tournament was not an easy feat considering that the team was assembled a few weeks before the departure to Cape Verde.
He hailed the resilience, dedication and discipline of the coaches and players throughout the competition.
“As a government, we are proud of the Starlets. They did not only make Bayelsa proud but also our country, Nigeria. They are indeed our worthy ambassadors,” he said.
The team’s Director-General, Mr. Ono Akpe, also showered encomiums on the players and the governor.
He said he was delighted that the contingent had a trophy at the end of the day to show for their modest effort.
“We were hopeful that the team will do well even though we knew our preparation for the tournament started late. We never wanted to disappoint our governor who gave his approval to participate in the Africa Youth Cup from the very moment we informed him about the invitation. His support was very sobering and encouraging.
“On our part, we want to continue to discover talents for the state and the country through the Seriake Dickson Football Tournament, which is the Restoration Cup, from which the bulk of these players were selected. So, the governor has again showed that he has genuine interest in harnessing and developing youths of the state,” Akpe noted.
Volcan Junior of Cote d’Ivoire defeated another Nigerian side, Pawas Academy of Jos 5-4 on penalties to emerge winners of the eight-team inaugural tournament.
The game ended 1-1 apiece during regulation time.