Kelvin Itoya led Enugu Rangers’ fightback as they defeated Kano Pillars 4-2 on penalties to win the 2018 Federation Cup on Wednesday and he has attributed the feat to the ‘power of the mind’.
The Flying Antelopes, in the final at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, fell three goals behind Sai Masu Gida but the striker’s 77th minute effort sparked their late comeback.
In the last 10 minutes, goals from Chidera Ezeh and Ajani Ibrahim ensured Gbenga Ogunbote’s side completed the fightback to secure their first Federation Cup title in 35-year on penalties.
“It was not really any magic but the power of the mind because in football, it is not over until it is over,” Itoya told Goal.
“We trust God as a team and were really prepared for any situation in the match. As soon as I was coming in, I just believe the match was not over for us and felt that we just needed to put in extra effort and God crowned our effort. It was just God. It has happened twice before this stage.
“In football, you never say it is over and with our motto which say never say die. We just put in everything we had. When I scored the first goal, I knew something good was likely going to happen. The motivation came as you know a goal is power and it gave us more energy to score two more goals to equalise 3-3 and later won on penalties.”
He further shared how special it was to his career, leading the Nigerian giants to glory and is holding no grudge against coach Ogunbote after being turned team’s super-sub.
“It means a lot to my career. In 2013, I lost it with Warri Wolves and I was really down. I give God the glory winning my first major trophy in the Nigerian football," he continued.
"I am happy that I have a trophy to my name, not only having that but also contributing immensely to helping my team to a title success. I give God the glory because it is not by my power.
“It is just grace and at the same time, I respected the coaches’ decision. At some point in time, I was not happy playing from the bench but I realised that it was the team’s tactics and it was working for the team. I had no choice as it was really paying off.
"I also think it was what the coach wanted and also favouring me too. So, I don’t have any regrets or grudge against anyone.
“When we were three-goal down, I was saying in my heart that we are not out yet and praying that my team will not lose in my home state. I thank God he didn’t put my team to shame.”