By Onochie Anibeze
Enyimba International of Aba yesterday won the 68th edition of the Federation Cup final held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
It was a dramatic final, full of suspense and action. Warri Wolves led twice but Enyimba came back twice and eventually won the deciding penalty shoot-out 5-4.
It was a game that Enyimba showed a lot of experience and character. It was not only the football on the pitch that was exciting. The side attraction of the fans was exceptional, entertaining and engaging. It enlivened the stadium and made the final a memorable and classy one. The fans were exceptional. They were indeed a great attraction in the game but Enyimba fans silenced their Warri counterparts in terms of drumming up support for their team. They were a class apart.
Najeme Musa scored the opener for Wolves in the 22nd minute and in the 62nd minute, Enyimba equalised through Bright Efiome, who was clearly the man of the match. He was a right full back, who attacked well and did everything right. His game should earn him an Eagles call-up.
Osadieye Joseph put Wolves ahead again in the 78th minute and the Warri fans started singing, thinking that the cup would go to Warri. They thought history was about to be made. It was only in the late 1960s that a team from Warri got to the final of the FA Cup.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan was to reward the players handsomely. FA Chairman Amaju Pinnick had promised N1m per goal. Clement Temile, a 1984 Nations Cup golden boot winner, who now lives in Europe, was around on Saturday to give the players motivational talk and told them that all the great football they played in the past never got them this far and that it was their time to make a change.
And it appeared Wolves were coasting home but all the dream was put on hold by the 83rd minute stunning equaliser by Ugwu Nwadiegwu, which was a free kick.
It gave life to Enyimba again and the game ended 2-2. In the resultant penalty shootout, Azubuike Egwueke, an Eagles player, who is captain of Warri Wolves and who on Saturday had promised to lift the cup, was unfortunately the only person who lost his kick and that ended Wolves chase for a diadem.
Meanwhile, Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan has congratulated Enyimba for their defeat. While hailing Enyimba’s fighting spirit, Uduaghan also commended Warri Wolves for their performance.
Uduaghan added that “ in Delta we win most and loose some. Congrats to both finalists”.