Enyimba have successfully defended the Federation Cup title after beating Dolphins 2-1 in the final match played on Sunday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos. It also became the fourth time that Enyimba would win the Cup.
The Aba club who were champions in 2005, 2009 and 2013, became the eighth club to win the title back-to-back. The victory will also provide succour for them after they lost the Glo Premier League to Kano Pillars.
The odds appeared to favour Enyimba before the kickoff and they wasted no time taking the game to their rivals, who had never lost in the Cup final.
Despite both sides parading two of the top scorers in the league, the goals did not come until 52 minutes into the encounter when the league record top scorer, Mfon Udoh, blasted a left footer from 20 yards out to find the back of the net.
Exactly 20 minutes later, Enyimba added to their lead as Chinonso Okonkwo took advantage of a miscommunication between Dolphins goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi and his defenders to score his first goal of the Federation Cup.
But Dolphins wasted no time in fighting back. Their push later paid off in the 80th minute when Emem Eduok, who had 20 goals in the domestic league, proved his worth with a valuable goal. It was, however, too little too late for the Port Harcourt side.
Dolphins almost conceded a late goal from Okonkwo, who kept troubling their defence, but Rotimi would allow none of that as he made one save after another to keep his side in the game.
Eduok, who was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after scoring four goals in six games, said he was disappointed his team could not beat Enyimba.
“We had the game from the beginning but I can’t explain how we couldn’t match them in the second half. That’s just football for you,” Eduok said.
Enyimba coach Kadiri Ikhana, who is winning the title for the second time after a successful outing with BCC Lions in the 1990s, said the anticipation of the final gave him sleepless night.
“I’ve been having sleepless nights for the past few days, urging the players to just win this title by any means. I don’t mind retiring after this; I just believe we should win a title this season,” Ikhana said after the game.
His counterpart at Dolphins, Stanley Eguma, congratulated the champions, saying he was happy his club put up a good fight.
“I’m happy that we made it to the final and it was a good game. We had our chances, but Enyimba took theirs when it mattered most. I congratulate them; it was a good fight,” Eguma said.
In the women’s final, Rivers Angels won their fifth Federation Cup title after defeating Sunshine Queens 2-0 with both goals coming from Asisat Oshoala and Stella Mbachu.—Punch