Noble's heroics send Enyimba to CAF Confederation Cup group stage 9ja Flavour | Nigeria sports news, transfers & gossips
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Noble’s heroics send Enyimba to CAF Confederation Cup group stage

Rivers born goalie helps knock out hometown club

Rivers United and Enyimba faced off in the second leg of their 2020/21 CAF Confederation Cup group stage playoff at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt with Enyimba having triumphed in the first leg 1-0. Enyimba progressed to the group stage after winning on penalties 5-4 when the fixture ended 1-0 to Rivers United after 90 minutes. Enyimba are Nigeria’s only remaining team in continental football.

Both teams attacked the game fiercely from the first whistle, and Rivers United were the first to really force the issue when Fortune Omoniwari forced Enyimba goalie, John Noble into a fine save inside two minutes. Enyimba came close to breaking the deadlock when Samad Kadiri’s effort came back off the base of the post in the 18th minute. The game was heading towards halftime when Rivers United found themselves in front. Malachi Ohawume found himself in acres of space as Enyimba were caught out cold and his shot was saved by Noble in the Enyimba goal, but Fortune Omoniwari was on hand to stab in the rebound in the 43rd minute. The second half was equally competitive, with both sides not afraid to attack one another, but both sides were unable to find what would have been a winning goal as the game petered out with the same intensity it started. After 90 minutes, it went straight to spot kicks to decide who would qualify for the group stage.

Cyril Olisema missed Enyimba’s first spot kick to put them at an immediate disadvantage before John Noble restored parity when he saved Rivers United defender, Kunle Odunlami’s penalty. Noble saved again from Rivers United substitute, Israel Emmanuel before picking himself up to score the 12th penalty of the shootout and send Enyimba into Monday’s group stage draw.

Enyimba have now progressed to the group stage in each of the last four occasions they have been on the continent, and coach Fatai Osho was seen grinning from ear to ear like a schoolboy after the penalty shootout was concluded. In his post-match press duties, he praised his players’ ability to adapt and perform in spite of the setback they faced and the kind of surface they played on. He also promised to deliver the goods and represent the nation well on the continent as Enyimba are now the sole Nigerian flag bearers in continental football.

Salahudeen Sulayman

Sulayman is a sports enthusiast and budding Sports writer. You can reach him on Twitter @Sulayman_Salah

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