Nasarawa United will face second division side, Bayelsa United FC in the final of the Aiteo Federation Cup after overcoming Sunshine Stars 6-5, with Danlami Umar’s heroic in between the sticks during the penalty shootout proving vital.
The Owena Whales had a day they will not forget in a hurry as their former employee, Chigozie Obasi, scored the last of six penalty kicks that helped the Solid Miners to a 6-5 victory in Friday’s Aiteo Cup Semi-Final at the Delta State Polytechnic Stadium, Ozoro.
League’s leading goalscorer and former Sunshine Stars’ player, Silas Nwankwo, ensured Nasarawa United deservedly led from the spot in the run of play in the 32nd minute with the help of slack goalkeeping from Henry Ayodele after failing to deal with Chigozie Obasi’s long range freekick, a moment that saw the Sunshine Stars’ first choice goalkeeper replaced by Saliu Suleiman due to a leg injury he sustained after a lengthy delay treating him.
It was Silas’ third goal in the competition.
Though United went into the break leading 1-0, the Akure-based side returned from the break with different game plans.
It was game on in the 51st minute as menacing Fuad Ekelojuoti drew Sunshine Stars level with a sublime finish.
Nasarawa United retook the lead in the 64th minute, experienced Chinedu Ohanachom powering home Chigozie Obasi’s great cross into the area, his second goal in the 2021 Aiteo Federation Cup.
The Lafia-based side held on to the scoreline until stoppage time.
But four minutes into added time, disaster struck. Kolade Adeniji equalised for his team, bringing the game into penalty shootout.
Coach Bala Nikyu tactically substituted Galadima Mohammed with penalty stopper, Danlami Umar before the shootout and the goalkeeper justified the confidence reposed in him, catching Kolade Adeniji’s kick, as Chigozie Obasi punished his former team, scoring United’s last kick after five previous kicks were successfully converted by players of both teams.
The result was a good value for Coach Bala Nikyu who is looking forward to winning his first silverware with Nasarawa United when his side clashes with revelation team of the 2021 Aiteo Federation Cup, Bayelsa United, at the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Edo State, on Sunday, 8th August, 2021.
Nasarawa United have now reached their second Aiteo Federation Cup final, the first being runners-up in 2016 in Lagos against FC Ifeanyi Ubah.
LlBefore then, the Solid Miners’ focus turns back to the race for the NPFL top three finish as they host Rangers International FC of Enugu on Monday, 2nd August, 2021, at the Lafia City Stadium, in a league game, before wrapping up the 2020/21 season with a trip to Okigwe to face Abia Warriors on Thursday, 5th August, 2021.