Delta State University (DELSU Titans), substitute goalkeeper, Fabian Ugboko, turned match hero as he saved two penalties to take his side into the last eight of the 2022 STANBIC IBTC Higher Institutions Football League and ensured Rivers-based Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE) Minders ended their campaign.
It was mixed fortunes as The Minders earlier claimed a 3-2 away win, in Abraka, with striker, Abel Eli, scoring a hattrick.
Eli hit a brace to take his tally to five and earned the Man-Of-The-Match award, but his efforts wasn’t good enough to make his side progress in front of home fans.
Ironically, DELSU Titans came better prepared for the second leg in Port-Harcourt and earned another 3-2 victory to drag the game to penalties.
The game started the way it ended in Abraka as IAUE Minders striker, Abel Eli stepped up to convert a penalty kick to put his side ahead in 10th minute of the first half and increase his tally to four.
Despite the dominance of the IAUE Minders, DELSU Titans equalized through Onyekachi Njoku.
After sustained pressure from the Titans, the Minders got ahead in the 75th minute through a well-executed finishing from Omodio Great.
It was end to end action as the goal was short-lived and Eli stepped up again to register a brace, on match day and his fifth over two legs.
With 10 minute to go and the fans of the hosts thinking they had the ticket to the quarter final, DELSU Titans kept pushing to turn the table around.
Expectedly, their efforts yielded dividends with only a minute to regulation time when Titans’ Okwuchi Emerald hit target to make it 3-2 in favour of his side and ende the victory dance of the shocked home fans.
Emerald’s late effort made it 5-5 on aggregate and dragged the game to penalty shootout.
Titans’ Head Caoch, Samuel Ekebor, applauded his team’s finishing.
“We played like a winning team, and I am very impressed with the confidence and mental ability of my side. We prayed and played hard to get a quarter-final spot. Now, we can only but think about lifting the trophy at the finals”, he said.
In other games, former Champions, UAM Tillers were also ousted from the 2022 HiFL after losing out on a 2-3 aggregate in the second leg match of the round of 16 played in Ilorin.
Like The Minders, ATBU Bravehearts of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University also lost at home to KASU Crocs from Kaduna State University by 2-3 leaving the Bravehearts to qualify with 4-3 on aggregate, having won the first leg by 2-0 in Kaduna.
The HiFL, in its fourth active season, is organized by PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing is supported by StanbicIBTC, Bold, LIRS and Indomie.