Technical adviser to Rangers International F.C of Enugu, coach Abdul Maikaba has attributed his team’s inability to . a further part in the ongoing oldest club competition in the country, Aiteo/Federation cup to his team’s profligacy in front of goal and tight defending at the back as Heartland triumphed 8-7 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time.
In a chat after the nail-biting loss inside Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin-City in a round of 32 clashes, the experienced and widely traveled gaffer said, “It was a very good game but I believe that our greatest undoing was not converting our numerous opportunities created during the regular period as well as not holding onto our lead. We lost through penalties which is one of those things in the game of football. This was not the result we worked for or wanted in the game but we take it in good faith and hope to come back stronger next season.”
The six-time national cup champions exited the competition after losing to Oriental rivals, Heartland F.C after a pulsating penalty kick that saw the Owerri side picking the round of 16 tickets via an 8-7 win even when the Enugu side took a 29-minute lead through Ossy Martins who bundled home a Chidiebere Nwobodo’ goal-bound effort off an inch-perfect pass from Ejike Uzoenyi.
Ossy Martins could have killed off any fightback chances from the ‘Naze Millionaires’ but failed to convert on 47 minutes when he was free on goal after he was set up by Chidiebere Nwobodo while Godwin Paul was alert to push out a Samuel Pam’ well struck free kick on 57 minutes before substitute, Nonso Nzediegwu reacted the fastest to stab home on 65 minutes a Murphy Ndukwu’ cross.
Efforts by both sides to get the winning goal during regulation time failed to yield any dividend. In the marathon shoot-out, goalkeeper Paul Godwin became the hero for the Owerri side as he stopped Christian Madu’s twice-taken kick even though, video checks showed he moved off his line before both kicks were taken, to send Heartland into the round of 16 w. they are scheduled to trade tackles with Dakkada F.C of Uyo in Asaba.
Ejike Uzoenyi, while reacting to the loss said, “We lost and we can’t take it back. We .ed an excellent game but blew our chances, especially in the early part of the second half. This was a game we had in our hands and we take responsibility for this loss.”
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