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A “Made in Africa” victory for Portsmouth

Last Updated: 5/18/2008 11:06:25 AM

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Nwankwo Kanu’s 39th minute strike off a John Utaka assist earns a famous FA Cup victory for Portsmouth FC ....


Kanu seals victory for Portsmouth
Kanu seals victory for Portsmouth

In his long and esteemed career Nwankwo Kanu has won practically everything there is to win in club football having starting off with the Nigerian League Championship with Iwuanyanwu National and along the way picking up winner’s medals in the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan, the UEFA champions League with Ajax, the English Premier League and two FA cups with Arsenal.

So one would be forgiven to think that yesterdays FA cup final which saw Kanu’s Portsmouth FC take on Cardiff FC would not necessarily rank that high in Kanu’s list of memorable finals. The great man dubbed ‘King’ Kanu by his team mates would beg to disagree and before the match stressed that reaching the finals with unfancied Portsmouth was one of his greatest achievements in football.

It proved more than memorable than he might have imagined. Having scored the only goal in the semi-final to dispatch West Bromwich Albion (WBA), ‘King’ Kanu again rode to Portsmouth’s rescue as he coolly volleyed home the winning goal after a fumble by Cardiff keeper John Encklemann in the 39th minute. It redeemed a previous moment of uncharacteristic inaccuracy form the big man eight minutes earlier, when he had elegantly shimmied past a Cardiff defender, coolly rounded Encklemann but failed to squeeze home a goal from an admittedly very tight angle.

The winning goal also owed a lot to the tenacity of Kanu’s fellow Nigerian international John Utaka whose tenacity down the right wing and pin point cross befuddled Encklemann. This combination echoed a feature of Portsmouth most successful season in decades the contribution of its Africa brigade – Sulley Muntari (Ghana), Pape Bouba Diop (Senegal), Lauren Etame Mayer (Cameroon), John Utaka and Nwankwo Kanu as well as Benjamin Mwaruwari who was sold to Man City mid season. The victory will be remembered for many as one fashioned in the heart of Africa and relished in the South coast of England.



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