Goalkeeper John Noble scored the decisive kick as Enyimba Football Club of Aba beat Rivers United 5-4 via penalties to reach the group phase of the CAF Confederation Cup.
The People’s Elephant got into the contest with a 1-0 aggregate from the first leg in Aba. Cyril Olisema’s goal made the difference last week Sunday.
Rivers United had put the disappointment from the first leg behind them and were pumped up to impress at home and advance.
When action commenced at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt, it was beyond a football match, it was a fight. Both sides went at each other and their intentions were clear; they both needed the win.
The pride of Rivers made it an interesting contest in the 42nd minute when Fortune Omoniwari scored. Malachi Ohawume had a good run into Enyimba’s danger area, just before he lost balance, he sent in a loosed ball, Omoniwari found it and blasted into the net of Enyimba.
Now 1-1 on aggregate. Game on!
Coach Stanley Eguma’s team took the lead into the break and tried to consolidate when play resumed but Enyimba covered their lines properly. The scoreline stayed the same and the game had to go into penalties.
Bamba Bakary took the first kick for Rivers United and scored. Enyimba’s hero from the first leg, Cyril Olisema stepped up to the spot and scored. Defender Ifeanyi Aniemena scored the second for Rivers United while Samad Kadiri converted Enyimba’s second.
Kunle Odunlami missed the third kick for the home side while the ever-impressive Anayo Iwuala scored to level up the scores for Coach Fatai Osho’s team. Both sides converted their next two kicks until substitute Israel Emmanuel missed the sixth kick for Rivers United.
The responsibility to score the winning kick fell on goalkeeper John Noble and he stepped up to it and calmly sent goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai to give Enyimba the victory.
Enyimba will advance to the group phase of the CAF Confederation Cup and coach Fatai Osho struggled to express his joy.
“I’m overwhelmed by emotions. I want to commend my players for the victory. The pitch didn’t let us play our football but I’m glad the players handled it well. We are happy we are through to the next round”, Osho said.
Coach Osho further stated that the win is a morale booster for his team. “We are used to being in the group stage of the competition, it would have been a huge shame if we had missed out,” he concluded.