Connect with us

Nigerian Football

Who Are the Masters?

Published

on

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The GTBank Masters Cup final this Thursday will certainly evoke nostalgic feelings of the 1960s and 1970s when schools football was almost drawing the same passion with competitions among top club sides in Lagos.

Two of the teams that made secondary schools football tick in the old federal capitals will clash on the sacred turf of Onikan Stadium where great footballers of the past have graced. Such included the legendary Pele who came in 1969 with the only club side he ever played for in Brazil, Santos FC.

Sports Village Square recalls that this time around,  it is the 10-time winners of the old Lagos Principals’ Cup, St Finbarr’s College Akoka facing another strong hold of secondary schools football, Anwar-ul-Islam College which under its previous name, Ahmadiyya College, featured in eight final matches of the old Principals Cup and won thrice in 1957, 1960 and 1965 in era when the school had the likes of Tunde Disu, Muyiwa Oshode and Tajudeen Olarenwaju who later became a general in the Nigerian Army.

Incidentally as great as both schools were, this Thursday is the first time they are meeting in a final match, courtesy of the platform offered by GTBank Masters Cup.

Advertisement

While St Finbarr’s College hold a record of most victories in the Principals Cup, Anwar-ul Islam also can lay claims in the record books. Sports Village Square notes that when the school won the then Zard Cup in 1957, it became the first victorious school outside the original seven that pioneered secondary schools football competition in Lagos in 1948.

Sports Village Square also recalls that both schools produced many great names in Nigerian football. St Finbarr’s College had Stephen Keshi, Paul Okoku, Henry Nwosu, Samson Siasia among others while as Ahmadiyya College, Anwar-ul-Islam produced, perhaps the greatest school football sensation of the 1960s, Tunde Disu and also Tajudeen Olarenwaju.

But Thursday’s setting is under a different platform produced by GTBank. According to information offered Sports Village Square, the Masters Cup, which the bank previously called Heritage Cup, began in 2012 as a stand-alone league especially for the old strongholds of the Lagos Principals Cup.

In the women’s category of the competition, Ansar-ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire will face Queens College, Yaba. Both schools have dominated the competition in the past. Sports Village Square recalls that this year’s final match is a repeat of the keenly contested 2014 final match.

Score line at after regulation time was goalless before Queens College prevailed 4-3 on penalties. Queens College won the inaugural edition in 2012 while Ansar-ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire won that of 2013 defeating Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, which Queens had also defeated in the previous final match.

Advertisement

Sports Village Square also notes that both finalists this year had been alternating victories in the Masters Cup. Queens College won in 2012, 2014 and 2016 while Ansar-ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire won in 2013 and 2015. Will 2017 be a victory for Ansar-ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire? The answer will emerge when both clash at 2pm at the water front Onikan Stadium on Thursday.

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Nigerian Football

A three-horse race for two continental ticket is set up after Enugu Rangers league win

Published

on

Enugu Rangers have broken loose from the pack as title contenders – Remo Stars, Enyimba and Shooting Stars all blew their chances in the penultimate match days as all lost with identical scorelines of 2-1 in their respective away games.

  The title is gone, now resting in Enugu who are having their second league celebrations in over 30 years. They win the jackpot N150 million prize for their title.

  But the battle is not over for the initial aspiring trio. At best they have the second CAF Champions League ticket to battle for. One of the three will win that on the last match day. The second placed team gets the CAF Champions League slot while the third gets the Confederation Cup ticket.

 Another

Coincidentally, the trio will be at their familiar home ground. As it is, second placed Remo Stars are at advantage to pick a ticket if they can pick a point from their home game with Katsina United. It will be their third consecutive adventure in the continent.

Advertisement

 The fierce battle will therefore be between third placed Enyimba and fourth placed Shooting Stars.  Both badly need a win to get either the Champions League ticket or that of the Confederation Cup.

  However, Plateau United are lurking and an away win by the Jos team in Aba will not only upset Enyimba, it could land the Plateau United a continental ticket should Shooting Stars lose or draw with Sporting Lagos.

On the other side of the divide, the battle to escape the drop has taken a dramatic twist. As the Sunday matches were on, Sporting Lagos initially thought they had escaped the drop.

 But a turnaround by Bayelsa United who came from behind to beat Shooting Stars change the weather condition for the worst for the Lagos sides.

  They now face an herculean task next weekend in their duel with continental ticket chasing Shooting Stars. The confirmed teams for relegation are Gombe United and Heartland.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Nigerian Football

Enugu Rangers are Nigerian champions!

Published

on

Enugu Rangers re-enacted their glorious old days and now the new Nigerian champions after defeating Bendel Insurance 2-0 and Remo Stars losing 2-1 to Sunshine Stars.

 The trio of Remo Stars, Shooting Stars and Enyimba who were on the heels of Enugu Rangers all lost their away games with 2-1 scorelines.

With the result, Enugu Rangers attained an unassailable lead with just one match day to end the Nigerian league season. Despite their pedigree in Nigerian football, this is just their second title since the Nigerian top league changed status to professionalism in 1990.

  Rangers, who are the only Nigerian club never to be relegated since the Nigerian national league began in 1972 won their only professional league title in 2016.

 In the pre-professional football era, they were Nigerian champions in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981 and 1982.

Advertisement

This time,  Remo Stars who who have delayed Enugu Rangers’ coronation lost  in a western derby, but retained their second position when Shooting Stars conceded  late goals to Bayelsa United and lost 2-1 after leading 1-0 for the greater part of the match. They dropped to the fourth position giving Enyimba a respite.

 Shooting Stars who got rejuvenated midway in the season can still hold on to their continental ambition when they host relegation-escapee, Sporting Lagos on the last match day.

  Rangers have a dead rubber away duel to Gombe United whose visa to the lower NNL has been issue. They possibly hold the record for the worst goal difference in the Nigerian league as they have a deficit of 56 goals.

 Results

  • Sunshine Stars 2-1 Remo Stars
  • Sporting Lagos 2-1 Enyimba
  • Bayelsa United 2-1 Shooting Stars
  • Enugu Rangers 2-0 Bendel Insurance
  • Abia Warriors 2-0 Akwa United
Continue Reading

Nigerian Football

Behold, Finidi George’s resignation letter and why he quit the job

Published

on

The decision of the Nigeria Football Federation to engage a foreign technical adviser is the main reason why Finidi George resigned from his appointment as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

This is contained in the letter of resignation which copy Sports Village Square has. In the letter dated June 14, 2024 and addressed to the NFF President, Finidi wrote:

 “I am writing to inform you of my decision to step down as the head coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s men senior team. This decision is in light of recent decision to effect changes in the team’s rechnical crew.

  “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you, the entire leadership of the federation, the sports ministry and the people of Nigeria for the opportunity to serve as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

“Although, our recent results in the qualifying matches were not as desired, I remained committed to getting our World Cup qualification campaign back on track.

“However, with the recent changes to the technical crew, I believe it is time to vacate my position.

“Please be assured of my continued support for the team, and I wish us all the best for the future.”

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Most Viewed