Nigeria, July 13, 2016 – Sunday Rotimi saved two penalties in a nervous penalty shootout as Rivers United progressed to the quarter finals of the Federation Cup on Wednesday following a 3-2 penalty victory over Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC).
In a game of few clear cut goal scoring chances, defences dominated as regulation time failed to produce any goals. The game actually got off to a flyer with 3SC almost netting in the opening minute through Sunday Adetunji. He made the most of some indecisive piece of Rivers United defending but lost the battle of nerves against Rotimi as he fired into the side-netting. Bernard Ovoke’s early chance represented United’s best chance in the half which finished goalless.
The second half followed a similar script as the first, with goal-scoring opportunities at a premium. Guy Kuemian had the best chance of the half as he came face to face with the 3SC goal keeper, Tayo Fabiyi in the 68th minute but dragged his effort wide.
So it went down to the lottery of penalties to decide the winner. Rotimi the earned his stripes saving well from Promise Ebiaku and Fabiyi while 3SC’s second half substitute, Nonso Ogbonna fired well over the bar from 12 yards.
Adetunji and Jimoh Olawale both converted their spot kicks for the vanquished side but it proved to be too little too late as United’s Godwin Obinze, Ovoke, and Chiwendu Ali all scored to ensure that Onyekachi Okafor’s missed counted for little.
The Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma was ecstatic after the nervy win. “It was a keenly contested game. The two teams know themselves inside out and we expected a tough game. It was a good game but we practiced penalty kicks and that’s why we were almost perfect with our spot kicks. It is not over yet as the competition gets tougher with each round,” Eguma told Rivers United Media.
The 3SC head coach, Gbenga Ogunbote also spoke after the match, identifying experience as the tie breaker in the contest.
“It was keenly-contested but we need to score. We have one clear chance and if we had scored, it would have made the difference. These things however happen in football and there is nothing you can do. They showed more maturity than us in the penalty shootout but now, we have to concentrate on avoiding relegation in the (Nigeria Professional Football League),” he said.