Rivers United ’s Darlington Ovunda says he is over the moon with his match-winning performance in-between the sticks after he helped his team advance to the semi-final of the 2019 Federation Cup.
Many thought the Pride of Rivers head coach, Stanley Eguma was bereft of ideas when he decided to withdraw injured Abiodun Akande for an unheralded goalkeeper, Ovunda in the dying moments of the regulation time in their last four tie with Lobi Stars in Ijebu Ode.
The goalkeeper made his impact felt when he saved Lobi’s Sikiru Alimi’s spot-kick and netted the decisive penalty kick to ensure that his team beat the 2018 NPFL champions 4-3 on penalties in the nervy tie played at the Dipo Dina Stadium.
Ovunda couldn’t contain his joy during the interview with his club’s official media officer shortly after the game.
“I can’t express the joy I feel right now. I feel so happy and I thank my teammates for the support they gave me,” Ovunda told his club’s official media office.
“When I was thrown into the fray, I knew that I had a responsibility to help my team and I am happy that we were able to do the minimum that has guaranteed us a place in the last four. We will go into the next game with the right frame of mind and determination to excel.
“Now, we want to do well in the semifinal and try to reach the final.”
Konan Ruffin, Temple Emekayi, Chigozie Ihunda, and Bakary Bamba converted for the Pride of Rivers while Dare Ojo, Ebube Duru, and Samuel Matthias were also successful for the ‘Pride of Benue’ from 12 yards.
Rivers United will face Niger Tornadoes in the semi-final to negotiate a place in the final of the competition they last won in 2007 when they were known as the Dolphins.