Cup competitions all over the world are usually dominated by shocks and a famous football pundit once described the FA Cup in England as the scourge of the giants and delight of the minnows.
The latter was ruthlessly display on Wednesday in Port Harcourt as Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club, Rivers United lost 6-7 on penalties to Julius Atete Football Club in the round of 64 of Nigeria’s oldest football competition, the Aiteo Cup after scores at regulation time stood at 0-0.
United never hit the heights all game long but were still far superior to their opponents as they completely dominated a dour contest decided at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.
Clear cut goal scoring opportunities were few and far between for both sides with the ‘Pride of Rivers’ coming closest to breaking the deadlock.
Daniel Israel, Emek Atuloma and Bernard Ovoke all had excellent chances to put United in front against the Amateur club in regulation time but saw their efforts foiled.
Under the fading lights in overcast conditions, it went down to the lottery of penalties and the both sides duly stepped up to the occasion, converting their first five spot kicks.
Ovoke, Atuloma, Ifeanyi Nweke, Guy Kuemian and Yusuf Jaiyeola were the first five spot kick takers for United and they comverted with aplomb.
With the unheralded and plucky Julius Atete stars also not allowing nerves to get to them from their first five attempts, the exercise then went into sudden death.
Daniel Israel was the first to score but with Atete also standing their ground, Zoumana Doumbia, the next Rivers United man on the spot light knew he could afford to make no mistakes from 11 metres.
He struck his effort firmly enough but it clattered against the cross bar as United hearts sank in unison.
Abraham Ovmiomoduaho then stepped forward for Julius Atete and duly converted the most important spot kick of his life to send shock waves across the country.
The head coach of Julius Atete FC explained that his side prepared for penalties as he expected the game to go right down to the wire has been attached.
United’s technical manager, Stanley Eguma expressed deep sadness at the result but said his troops will now be roused ahead of Sunday’s important NPFL game against Enyimba.