Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 11 July 2014 | 3,342 times
Defending champions Enyimba FC of Aba have qualified for the next round of the Federations Cup after beating Niger Tornadoes 8-7 on penalty shootout yesterday in Benin City.
After conceding an early goal in the first half, Enyimba (two-time champions of the African Champions League) turned the heat on the Minna side and were rewarded with just some few minutes to half time remaining.
A Tornadoes defender had handled a cross from the left side of Enyimba’s attack and the referee was left with no other option but to point to the spot. Uche stepped up to send the Tornadoes goalkeeper the wrong way to the relief of his teammates and the bench.
On resumption of play in the second half, both teams adopted a cautious approach and consequently chances were few and far in-between.
With about a quarter of the game remaining, Enyimba threw on Emeka Nwanna, a veteran attacker who was the first ever player to receive N1 million in the Nigerian local league during the glory days of then Abia governor Orji Uzor Kalu. It was a change that enlivened their attack, but Tornadoes defence stood firm and thwarted all of Enyimba’s goal moves.
At the end of regulation time, then came penalty shootouts. If the regular time was only a little more than a dour affair, the penalty shootouts offered more excitement.
Tornadoes missed their second and third kicks, while Enyimba lost their third. Uche who had scored Enyimba’s equalizer from the spot then stepped up to play his side’s fifth to give victory to his team. He missed, as his shot hit the left post.
In the sudden death kicks, Enyimba’s goalkeeper Chijioke Ejiogu proved to be the hero as he saved to send his team marching on in the Federations Cup.
•Photo shows Enyimba players celebrating victory.
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