Lobi Stars Progressed to the round of 32 of the Federation Cup by ending the dreams of an ambitious NNL side FC One Rocket 5-3 on penalties after the regulation time ended 2-2 in the round of 64 at the Awka Township Stadium, Anambra State.
Coach Mohammed Baba Ganaru’s men started the encounter on a bright note and broke the deadlock in the 9th minute through Wasiu Alalade.
The former Kwara United Striker raced into the box and connected on target a well-tailored cross by Joseph Atule from the left flank beating FC One Rocket Goalkeeper, Lordful Philip for the NPFL giant Opener.
4 minutes after, Barnabas Imenger doubled the lead only for the linesman to raise his flag as he adjudged the ball was out for goal kick before Atule brought in an invited cross.
Nevertheless, the Makurdi-based side grew strong in the game with a series of goal-scoring opportunities created, noticeable with Atule, but his numerous efforts on target were saved by goalkeeper Philip.
Emmanuel Daniel of Lobi Stars Made an important save when he saved a one-on-one situation against Wonderson Yakubu to preserve the Star’s 1-0 lead going into halftime.
Both teams returned to the pitch after the break interval for the last 45 minutes of the cracker and it was Rocket that levelled the scoreline 1-1 through Yakubu’s header in the 56th minute when the centre forward jumped taller and connected with Harrison Ebah’s cross, thus the lower division side taking the lead through Clinton Japhtha in the 71 minutes.
Atule restored parity for the former federation cup champions after utilizing Abba Umar’s freekick 5 minutes to the end of regulation time which changed the scoreline to 2-2.
The fierce contest was dragged into a penalty shootout upon the final whistle and the “Shoe Get Size” boys dwelled on their vast experience and edged out the lower division side from Akwa Ibom State 5-3 on penalties to progress to the round of 32.
The victory is a huge relief for Baba Ganaru’s men and has ended a temporary goal drought as they scored twice from open play within the regulations time and will indeed serve as a morale booster going into the NPFL weekend home tie against Niger Tornadoes.
Lobi Stars Media