AUSTIN OYIBODE, EDITOR
The Stephen Keshi stadium in Asaba on Wednesday went wild with jubilant spectators and football fans as Enugu Rangers Football Club of Enugu conquered Kano Pillars Football Club of Kano at the grand finale of the Aiteo 2018 football finals.
The match which kicked off at exactly 4:30pm was witnessed by President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, his Enugu counterpart and name sake, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and deputy governors of Edo and Kano states, among other dignitaries.
Prior to the commencement of the match, Enugu Rangers with their teaming supporters had boasted that they would beat Kano Pillars hands down and return to Enugu with the trophy.
But Kano Pillars had within 10 minutes of the start of the first half scored a lone goal and continued scoring until it scored three goals to almost beat Enugu Rangers to nothing at the second half.
Every spectator and fan at the newly constructed stadium had given up hope of Enugu Rangers waking up from their slumber even as a spectator said some fans from Enugu had started returning home with the belief that the club could no longer win the match.
However, at about the 65th minute of the match, Rangers recorded her first goal after effected some changes including the replacement of its goalkeeper. The replacement of her goalkeeper, some spectators said was the undoing of Kano Pillars and the savior of the Enugu Rangers.
Rangers went on to score her second goal at the 80th minute when it became obvious that Pillars players were burning out of steam, with two players stretched out due to fatigue. The continuous of the Kano Pillars team members was also seen by spectators as a strategy to kill time and eventually emerge victorious.
The regulation time, however, ended 3-3 draw as Enugu Rangers continuously scored three goals within few minutes without Kano Pillars making any score. The equalization sent shouts across the stadium as it was unbelievable for Enugu Rangers to have woken from their slumber and beat up Kano Pillars within few minutes and score three goals unhindered.
Following the equalization of goals, a five penalty shootout was put in place that resulted in Kano Pillars missing two of its spot kicks while Rangers converted four making the fifth not necessary.
It was a frenzy of sort as the fans of Enugu rangers trooped out of their section and converted the sporting arena to a carnival-like ground, singing, dancing and making merriment.
The master of ceremony called the security to control the ground but it was obvious that the crowd could not be controlled as it was unbelievable for a sleeping Rangers to have woken up and defeat the Pillars from 3-0 to winning the Aiteo cup finals.