- Published on Thursday, 13 April 2017 23:30
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By Fisayo Dairo
Rivers United booked a place in the quarterfinals of the NPFL Under-15 Promises tournament after an emphatic 3-0 drubbing of Enyimba at the Owerri centre on Thursday.
United were without their four-goal hero Kenneth Clinton but winger Nathan Collins rose for the team, grabbing an impressive hattrick to lead his team en route to success. After a cagey start to the game, Collins scored twice in three minutes to take his team out of sight of the Baby Elephants from Aba.
He got his first on 16 minutes when he followed up his initial effort clumsily handled by Enyimba goalkeeper Chimezie Ndukwe before adding a second two minutes later after some lethargic defending by the young Enyimba defence.
Enyimba tried in vain to reduce the deficit in the first half and were dealt a further blow six minutes into the second when Collins completed his hattrick by heading home an inswinging corner kick by full back Joseph Wakama.
Collins' treble was the second to be recorded at the Owerri centre (after Elisha Jonah's opening day hattrick) and the Nembe, Bayelsa born player was grateful for helping his team with the goals.
"I am very happy for the goals and I give thanks to the Almighty because it is not by my power," Collins spiritually declared.
"I am happy to give my team the goals as you can see our Number 9 (Clinton) was not dear today," added the right footed left-winger whose footballing idol is Barcelona super-star Neymar.
Having all but sealed qualification for the quarter finals, the Junior Secondary School 3 student of Entorial High School, Borokiri, Port Harcourt told www.npfl.ng that his team will not fail the region at the finals.
"I am sure we will do well in Lagos. I have good understanding with my teammates and that will help us against any team we face," concluded Collins who has the immediate ambition of playing for former African champions Enyimba.
The centre's other big game between Akwa United and FC Ifeanyiubah was called off with eight minutes of regulation time left to be played and Ifeanyiubah leading 2-1 due to poor visibility occasioned by bad weather.
Midfielder Japhet Bilya beat a badly set offside trap to put Ifeanyiubah in the lead on 26 minutes but the effervescent Uwana Akpan equalized for United five minutes after the restart.
The tempo of the game dramatically rose in the second half as both teams went for the kill and it was Bilya that scored again after some brilliant work by captain Nansel Bussa.
The goal came on 72 minutes and it became evident the visibility of players, officials and fans have been affected by the weather, prompting the match officials to call the game off. The remaining eight minutes will be played on Friday at 8am.
Friday's schedule in the tournament will still go ahead in the afternoon when Abia Warriors and Enyimba jostle for their first points in the competition in what is expected to be a cracking Abia Classico at 2pm before Owerri centre comes to a grandstand finale when Rivers United take on FC Ifeanyiubah.
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