Enugu Rangers staged ‘The Miracle of Asaba’ by coming from three goals down to beat Kano Pillars and clinch a sixth FA Cup with hero Kelvin Itoya saying it was only God who made this stirring comeback possible.
Itoya came off the bench to fire home a goal in the 77th minute and inspire Rangers to draw level 3-3 in stoppage time before they won 4-2 in the penalty shootout.
“This can only be God, we give God all the glory.” shouted Itoya.
“It was a very tough match but we showed our ‘Never Say Die’ fighting spirit and God crowned our efforts with this great success.”
It was second time lucky for Itoya, who lost with Warri Wolves in the cup final five years ago.
“This triumph is a great leap in my career and I am very excited as this happened after I missed the opportunity with Warri Wolves in Lagos in 2013,” he recounted.
Rangers coach Gbenga Ogunbote also attributed this feat to divine grace.
“All glory goes to God. This happened because of His mercies and I return all the glory to Him,” he said.
“This was a great scare, but we fought hard to ensure we were crowned champions and I am happy.
“I thank our fans who stood by us even when we were down.”
With Rangers looking througly beaten at 3-0, Ogunbote brought on Itoya for Ugochukwu Ugwuoke and Ghanaian shot stopper Nana Bonsu came on for Femi Thomas and the revival started.
Itoya pulled one back with a screamer of a shot from the edge of the box on 77 minutes, before Chidera Ezeh further reduced the tally on 82 minutes.
Late substitute Ajani Ibrahim completed the comeback with a diving header in added time to send the fans inside the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba into wild jubilation.
In the ensuing penalty kicks Rangers players Godwin Zaki, Chidera Ezeh, Ifeanyi George and Isaac Loute all converted their kicks, while Rabiu Ali and Jimoh Ismail lost for Kano Pillars.
Rangers will represent Nigeria in the CAF Confederation Cup next year.