Aiteo Cup: Profligacy at goal caused our downfall, says Maikaba

by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

Head coach of Rangers International FC, Abdul Maikaba has attributed their inability to progress to the round of 16 in the ongoing Aiteo/Federation Cup competition to the players’ failure to convert golden opportunities that could have earned them a win at a regular time.

Maikaba said their challengers, Heartland of Owerri, were highly defensive at the back-line during the cracker at the Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Edo State.

In a post-match reaction, the football gaffer lamented that the final score of the game did not reflect what his team worked for or expected to happen.

Although he conceded to the defeat which ended in penalty shootouts where they lost 8-7 to Heartland of Owerri, Maikaba vowed to come back stronger the following season.

aiteo cup

He said, “It was a very good game but I believe that our greatest undoing was not converting our numerous opportunities created during the regular period as well as not holding onto our lead.”

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“We lost through penalties, which is one of those things in the game of football. This was not the result we worked for or wanted in the game but we take it in good faith and hope to come back stronger next season,” Maikaba added.

According to Norbert Okolie, Media Officer of the club, the six-time national cup champions exited the competition after losing to Oriental rivals, Heartland FC after a pulsating penalty kick that saw the Owerri side picking the round of 16 tickets via an 8-7 win even when the Enugu side took a 29-minute lead through Ossy Martins who bundled home a Chidiebere Nwobodo’ goal-bound effort off an inch-perfect pass from Ejike Uzoenyi.

Okolie noted that Ossy Martins could have killed off any fightback chances from the ‘Naze Millionaires’ but failed to convert on 47 minutes when he was free on goal after he was set up by Chidiebere Nwobodo while Godwin Paul was alert to push out a Samuel Pam’ well struck free kick on 57 minutes before substitute, Nonso Nzediegwu reacted the fastest to stab home on 65 minutes a Murphy Ndukwu’s cross.

He said efforts by both sides to get the winning goal during regulation time failed to yield any dividend. In the marathon shoot-out, goalkeeper Paul Godwin became the hero for the Owerri side as he stopped Christian Madu’s twice-taken kick even though, video checks showed he moved off his line before both kicks were taken, to send Heartland into the round of 16 where they are scheduled to trade tackles with Dakkada FC of Uyo in Asaba.

Meanwhile, Ejike Uzoenyi conceded that they were wasteful in front of the goal which caused the team’s loss eventually.

He added that the team, who had all the avenues to triumph in the game, has taken responsibility for the loss.

He said, “We lost and we can’t take it back. We played an excellent game but blew our chances, especially in the early part of the second half.

“This was a game we had in our hands and we take responsibility for this loss,” he added.

Enugu Rangers finished last season on 5th position on the Nigeria Professional Football League table having amassed 56 points, 3 points above Nasarawa  United on 6th and 2 points below Kwara United on 4th position.

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