Former African champions, Enyimba reached the group stage of the 2021 CAF Confederations Cup after they defeated Rivers United 5-4 on penalties in the second leg of the playoff tie played yesterday at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium.
Enyimba took their 1-0 first leg advantage in Aba to Port-Harcourt but Fortune Omoniwari’s strike in 42nd ensured the playoff ended 1-1 on aggregate.
Omoniwari’s goal was his atonement for the opportunity he wasted as early as the first minute of the match when he was clear on goal but failed to score.
After the early scare, the ‘People’s elephants’ camped in the half of Rivers United and that nearly paid off when Kadiri Samad’s seemingly tame shot at goal hit the side post before it was hastily guided out by shepherded out Theophilus Afelokahi.
Rivers United then had another chance in the 24th minute when sleeky Godwin Aguda raced past his marker from the left flank but his cross was missed by all including his teammates.
However, the deadlock was broken in the 42nd minute when Malachy Ohanu from 25 yards sped past two Enyimba defenders and his weak shot rebounded and fell perfectly in the path of on rushing Omoniwari who finished off with aplomb.
The second half continued on the same high tempo as both sides pushed harder to score and possibly avoid the looming penalties but the regulation time ended 1-0 in favour of Rivers United.
In the resultant penalties, both sides scored four of the first five kicks as Kunle Odunlami and Cyril Olisema missed a kick each.
It was in the ‘sudden death’ that goalkeeper Noble Obuh sent Enyimba into the group stage after substitute Israel Emmanuel failed to score.