Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side FC IfeanyiUbah has emerged champions of the 2016 Federation Cup after defeating Nasarawa United at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Sunday.
The Nnewi club claimed their first major title in Nigeria in a penalty shootout that ended 5-4 in their favour after the full time of 90 minutes produced no goals.
It was the first time that both teams were playing in the Cup final but it was the third time they went head to head this season after playing two matches in the top division.
With 10 key players Cup-tied, FC IfeanyiUbah head coach Rafael Everton still had enough quality to name four foreign players, Alberico Da Silva, Ngoma Luamba, Tamen Medrano and Pascal Seka, in his startlist.
Nasarawa United head coach Kabiru Dogo had no worries as he had the full complement of his playing personnel that included Abdulrahman Bashir, Esosa Igbinoba, Ifeanyi Nweke, Lordson Ichull, Thomas Zenke and Seun Sogbeso.
FC IfeanyiUbah made the early move of the contest inside the opening seconds.
Four minutes into the game, FC IfeanyiUbah’s Brazilian Alberico fired his effort over.
Nasarawa United then came close twice to opening the score. First IfeanyiUbah’s Jimoh Oni had to be alert to thwart a through-ball to Zenke and later Tayo Fabiyi could only blaze over a knockdown from a corner kick.
On 12 minutes, Nasarawa United were on the prowl again but Bashir decided to go for glory when he could have easily slipped through a better-positioned Fabiyi.
As the game ebbed and flowed without clear-cut scoring chances, Nasarawa United were dealt a big blow when Ichull had to leave the pitch with a knock and his place was taken by Douglas Achiv.
There was also time for FC IfeanyiUbah captain Wilson Elu to curl a 25-yard free kick towards goal, forcing Nasarawa United goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso into making a save.
Just before the break, Nasarawa United had a decent chance but Bashir fluffed it in what was the last kick of the first 45 minutes.
At the start of the second half, FC IfeanyiUbah should have gone in front after Ayeleso’s poor clearance but their front men’s indecision allowed Nasarawa United to clear their lines.
Close to the hour in the game, Zenke sprung out of his half with the ball in a counter-attack and played Bashir through on goal. FC Ifeanyiubah goalkeeper Uche Okafor raced off his line to gather before the former ABS and Enyimba man could get on the end of Zenke’s pass.
FC Ifeanyiubah then had their opportunity at the other end when Ayeleso did brilliant to stop Eugene Ossy from reaching a through pass with 20 minutes to time.
Nine minutes to full time, Seka received a fine ball over the top of Nasarawa United’s defence. He managed to keep the ball down with his first touch but smashed it over with his second.
Both teams failed to create scoring chances in the remaining minutes and stoppage time, forcing them into penalties.
FC IfeanyiUbah scored all of their five spot kicks while Nasarawa United netted four with Okafor keeping out the Solid Miners’ penalty specialist, Sogbeso.
The Anambra Warriors, as FC IfeanyiUbah are nicknamed, will now play in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup.