Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 3 April 2015 | 5,268 times
The Edo State FA Cup has witnessed yet another upset. BJ Foundation FC at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, on Thursday evening qualified for the final by beating one of the pre-tournament favourites and National Amateur Division 1 side Dynamite FC 5-3 on penalties.
The young BJ boys controlled the game for the most parts, with Nicholas Odemwingie and Francis Ikpomwonsa proving ever threatening with their pace and quick-footed skills.
Dynamite were disappointing in their approach to the game, appearing clearly to be the more nervous side and defending without compactness, with their full backs often too far away from the central defenders.
BJ made them pay for their nerves early in the first half when Ikpomwonsa was brought down in the Dynamite 18-yard box. Ikpomwonsa, who was signed by BJ this year, has been in terrific form for the team and his killer instinct in front of goal frightens opponents.
Igiebor Terry converted the spot-kick for BJ and they continued to threaten. It took some last gasp defending for Dynamite not to concede a second goal.
However, against the run of play, Dynamite got a free kick late in the first half about 25 yards away from the BJ goal. Midfielder Deba Itua produced a wonderful strike, looping the ball on top of the BJ wall. Goalkeeper Shangwa stood rooted to the spot as Itua wheeled off in celebration before stopping almost immediately as it sunk in that he had scored against a team he was playing for as recently as last year.
After a brief spell of ascendency in the second half, Dynamite fell into the same first half malaise of not being able to keep the ball, allowing BJ to peg them in their own half. For a team that is competing at a higher level of Nigerian football than BJ, it was embarrassingly painful for the Dynamite fans to watch.
Defensive midfielder Ukah was forced into making vital interceptions for Dynamite as BJ searched for the knockout blow. Though fair-skinned Ukah received lots of applause for his timely sliding tackles, his dropping too deep to defend left Dynamite short in the middle when they needed to keep hold of the ball.
Late in the game, the centre referee refused to award what was a clear penalty to BJ when midfielder Michael cut in from the byline of Dynimite’s left back Uzuma, who then upended the goal-bound player from behind.
In the penalty shootout that followed the one-all draw at fulltyime, BJ held their nerves better to score four of their kicks to Dynamite’s two.
BJ’s coach Douglas Idahosa was lifted sky-high by jubilant players as he chanted “Change! Change! Change!”
It was really a change of fortunes for the two most dominant teams of the state, Bendel Insurance and Dynamite, who both failed to reach the final.
For BJ FC it’s yet another emergence of a group of fine players. From defenders Abraham Odianose, Igiebor and Ekigho Erimuya, to midfielders Afo Johnson and Blessed Iyamu, and the strikers Nicholas Odemwingie, Uche and Francis Ikpomwonsa, the club has found new heroes to take the baton from ex-players like Edison Echiejile (Monaco and Super Eagles), Victor Moses (Chelsea and Super Eagles) and Mikel Agu (FC Porto), amongst others.
BJ will play against Kukuruku Dragons in the Edo FA Cup final on April 8. Auchi-based Dragons thrashed Crown FC 3-0 to get to the final.
•Photo shows BJ leading scorer Francis Ikpomwonsa celebrating his club’s qualification to the Edo state FA Cup final at the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City on Thursday evening.
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