Port Harcourt-born John Noble Biriyima was the hero yesterday as Enyimba beat Rivers United in their CAF Confederation Cup decider at the Adokie Aimiesimaka Stadium to qualify for the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Enyimba won the first leg in Aba last week by 1-0 and needed a draw to advance to the group phase of the competition, but they met a Rivers United side with their own ambitions and a lot to play for.
Before the game, many Rivers United supporters, including the state’s governor, Nyesom Wike, had promised to change the lives of the players, pledging huge sums of money for a win.
On the pitch, the Port Harcourt side looked set for victory when Fortune Ominiwari put them ahead in the 42nd minute.
Urged on by their teeming supporters at the Adokie Aimiesimaka Stadium, Rivers United upped the tempo in search of the lead, but Enyimba resisted all their efforts.
After a high tempo start in the second half, the game petered out in the dying minutes, with tackles becoming more dangerous. The game ended 1-0 in favour of Rivers United and the teams then went straight to penalty shoot out.
Cyril Olisema missed Enyimba’s first kick, but the Aba side, thanks to goalkeeper Noble’s heroics, recovered to score their next five kicks.
Kunle Odunlami and Israel Emmanuel missed from the spot for Rivers United, while Noble, who saved two spot kicks, scored the decisive kick for Enyimba.
Enyimba FC have now progressed to the group stage on the continent in each of the last four times they represented Nigeria.
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