Evelyn Nwabuoku’s second-half goal was all Rivers Angels of Port Harcourt needed to secure their place in this season’s Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Super 4 ahead of Delta Queens inside a wet and cold Yakubu Gowon Stadium on Thursday.
Nwabuoku fired home in the 63rd minute from a 25-yard set-piece, beating a helpless Ihuoma Onuegbu in goal for Delta Queens.
Both teams came into the game in the knowledge that victory for either side would guarantee a place in the season-ending Final Four tournament after Lagos side FC Robo picked the other available ticket with a victory over Osun Babes on Wednesday.
The match between Angels and Queens was originally scheduled for Wednesday, September 11 but heavy downpour meant it was shifted to 8am on Thursday.
However, kickoff was yet again delayed as the rain continued in the early hours of Thursday with the game eventually kicking off at exactly 11:20am although there was no shortage of drama as Delta Queens held up the match for 20 minutes in protest over the state of the waterlogged pitch.
What eventually transpired was a strange game that saw just 24 minutes played in the first half with the referee allowing an hour and seven minutes of action in the second half.
Wogu Chioma and Yetunde Adeboyejo both went close for Angels in the first half and Angels maintained their dominance in the second period with Nwabuoku rifling home the winner from a set-piece in the 63rd minute after Wogu had been fouled.
Angels head coach Edwin Okon was understandably excited about his side’s progression to the Super Four but was quick to set his team’s focus on the task ahead.
“I want to thank God for this victory and the Super 4 ticket,” began an excited Okon.
“Yes we’ve booked our place but the fight continues because we have a bigger task ahead of us.
“If you check, the other three teams in the race, there are no pushovers, so we still have a lot of work to do,” he added.
Tosan Blakson, head coach of Delta Queens was critical of the NWFL’s decision to sanction the game inspite of the ambient circumstances and said his team only carried through with the match out of professional courtesy.
“Unfortunately for us, we heard the result of Robo yesterday and knew we needed a win in order to qualify,” said Blakson.
“I came prepared because I knew today’s game was a winner-takes-all.
“But I equally want to blame the board for making us play under the condition we did today.
“We only agree to play because we want football to grow and my girls gave their best,” he added.
Rivers Angels will compete in the NWFL Super 4 for a third straight year and join Bayelsa Queens, Confluence Queens and Adamawa Queens in the tournament which will determine the 2018/2019 league Champions.