- Qualifies For CAF Confed. Round of 16
By Akanimo Kufre
Despite the volatile atmosphere and indiscipline that rocked the second half of proceedings between Akwa united and Al Ittihad, the Libyan side were at last excited the game entered penalties after 1-1 aggregate at 90 minutes.
For once, the uncontrollable anger of Al-Ittihad team at the referees settled because the North Africans believed they are better at spot kick and also have a finger tip saving goalkeeper Mohammed Abukred on their side.
Unlike their fair skin counterpart, Uyo fans were angry with their players who they expected to lead with at least 3 goals at full blast of the whistle. There was greater panic and tension for the home fans than the visitors especially with general lack of confidence in Akwa goalkeeper, Ojo Olorunleke who was mostly idle for the best part of the match. Moreover, his slack at last home match against Banjul Hulks was still fresh on their mind and so started payers for miracle.
Ojo went in-between the post first and lost first two kicks from the Libyans. His team mate Etim made fantastic deliveries for two goals apiece. At 2-2 hymns and prayers were on the lips of Akwa United. Ojo did the unexpected and saved a spot kick. Miraculously, again he saved another and stopped the Libyans from proceeding to next found of the CAF Confederation Cup.
It was heroic, Ojo Olorunleke secured the he much needed break from nervousness into wild celebration at the Nest of Champions. Setting history and double record for first Akwa home win in CAF competition and first knock-out rounds qualification.
Earlier on, the match started with Akwa controlling the pacy north Africans attacking play in the first 5 minutes and thereafter dominated most part of the first half with 5 attempts on target, more corner kicks and yet without a goal.
The Libyans converted a three touch set piece from the left flank that hit the back of the net, but was disallowed as off side about middle of the first half.
Akwa United new shinning kid, Aniekeme ‘Perrere’ Asuquo gave a fabulous goal barely one minute into second half. But as Uyo team searched for a winner, the Libyan side struck in another goal but spotted by assistance referee as offside. Hell was let loose as the tension soaked 2nd half barely had 30mins of playing time according to Coach Mikaba of Akwa United.
Al-Ittihad player was red carded leaving 10 men to Akwa advantage. Another was booked from the bench while their Head coach was already watching from the spectator’s stand for indisciplinary actions.
While Ojo was being celebrated as hero, Akwa captain, AriwaChuckwu Emmanuel said it was God who gave them the victory. “it was God who did it, am so excited and thankful God made us win.”
In a post match interview, coach Maikaba attributed the fabulous penalty prosecution by his players to a psychological strategy. The penalty shooter knew their sequence before time, thus reducing panic and self doubt. A similar tactics that works in Cricket game know as ‘batting order’.
Meanwhile, Al-Ittihad head coach, Diego Garzitto was still physically angered that he was robbed of a victory by the match referees.