Bayelsa United Football Club on Friday, July 30, defeated arch-rivals Rivers United in the semi-final of the ongoing Aiteo Cup to set up an epic final with Nasarawa United.
Inikurogha Okardi scored the lone goal in the second half of the encounter after both sides failed to score in the first half of the game, which was played at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos and dubbed a South-South derby.
During the first half break, the team got a motivation from Governor Douye Diri, who called them via telephone and assured the boys of increasing their winning bonus if they won the match.
Diri, who also prayed with them, charged them to make Bayelsa proud as the entire state was waiting for them to return with victory, and added that defeating Rivers United was not an impossible thing to do.
He said: “This match I hear is very critical and very crucial for you people to go to the finals and so I just felt let me speak to you people, encourage you and ensure that you also win this match. As you go for the second beat of this match, go out with all your arsenals. I want to hear that in this second half that you have scored a goal. And as you do that, I am going to increase your winning bonus for you. So, I wish you the best. I pray that the miracle that has brought me to this seat of governor will also follow you in this match and beyond”.
Bayelsa United, who are currently campaigning in the Nigeria National League (NNL), have been dubbed giant killers after knocking out premier league sides like Rangers FC, Lobi Stars and now Rivers United.
It was a divine day for the team, as the controversial penalty awarded to Rivers United was saved by goalkeeper John Shuaibu to seal victory for the Prosperity Boys.
Chairman of the team, Ebiki Timitimi, dedicated the victory to God, Governor Diri, his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo and all Bayelsans, thanking them for the support and solidarity.
He said their eyes are set on winning the cup and then pick a continental ticket, saying indeed, there is power of miracles in Bayelsa State under the Miracle Governor.
In the other semi-final game, Nasarawa United stopped Sunshine Stars 6-5 on penalties after full time scores stood at 2-2.
NPFL leading scorer Silas Nwankwo opened scoring for Nasarawa United in the 32nd minute from the penalty spot.
It was his third goal of the cup competition and he now has 21 goals in all competitions having scored 18 goals in the NPFL.
The eventual winners of the Aiteo Cup final, which will be decided in Benin, Edo State on August 8, will represent Nigeria in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup.