Connect with us

Nigerian Football

HISTORY IS A RECURRING DECIMAL AS AKWA UNITED TARGETS AITEO CUP VICTORY

Published

on

BY MFON PATRICK.

 

Two factors are motivating AITEO Cup finalist, Akwa United as they arrived Lagos this weekend. The zeal to make history and the resort to reclaim a continental ticket the club agonizingly missed when the curtain fell on the Nigeria Professional Football League Season 2016/17.

As  for the latter factor, Akwa United which had impressive run in the season and for most part of the league stayed firmly in to five bracket, it had a twist of fate losing their penultimate league match to Shooting Stars in Ibadan, a loss which led to the loss of their claim to third position on the final log.

Placing third would have enabled the flamboyant side go continental again like that of last year by featuring in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.

Advertisement

The hope is still alive, hence with pent-up annoyance, they dealt heavily on their albatross, Shooting Stars, when they met in the Round of 16 of the AITEO Cup, another route to going continental.

Also, it is the desire of the club to make history. A pursuit history of being the first club to win the AITEO Cup. Also, a history of being the first to win a Federation Cup and the AITEO Cup. It is more! The first club to win a national cup at the Agege Stadium.

The club on the verge of history defeated Sunshine Stars on the path to the final match. Before then, they had left other clubs crashing. These include Halfa FC, Yobe Stars and Katsina United Feeders.

Akwa United is possibly one of the most attack-oriented clubs in the competition having scored a mind blowing 23 goals and conceded paltry six in seven matches.

Niger Tornadoes return to Lagos on a third journey to claim a national cup. The first attempt in 1982 ended in a mitigated disaster, losing to a fire-up Stationery Stores of Lagos by 4-1. But Niger Tornadoes achieved success a second time around, profiting from a dying minute own goal by Enugu Rangers’ Akin Ademofe in the cup final of 2000.

Advertisement

Both Akwa United and Niger Tornadoes are meeting for the third time this year having met in the league.

Akwa United won 3-0 in the sumptuous Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo but lost the reversed fixture, 0-1 in Minna.

With a continental ticket and whopping Twenty-Five Million Naira prize money on offer, Coach Abdu Maikaba has revealed that his team will not leave any stone unturned in Sunday’s final.

He has a full strength squad to choose from for the match and he will be banking on the experience of Captain Otobong Effiong, Ariwachukwu Emmanuel, Godspower Igudia, Paterne Counou and Ubong Friday who were part of the team that lifted the trophy two years ago.

With experienced Super Eagles midfielders Ifeanyi Ifeanyi and Aremu Afeez pulling the strings in the middle of the park, Forwards Christian Pyagbara, Musa Newman, Cyril Olisema and Ubong Friday are sure to enjoy full supply of delectable passes as they gear to round off what has been a great season.

Advertisement

The competition’s top scorer Christian Pyagbara who has scored seven goals in seven matches has said that his focus will be to ensure that the team achieve its target in Sunday’s final. If Pyagbara scores on Sunday, he will be the competition’s highest goal scorer in the last three years.

Thousands of vocal supporters and fans from Akwa Ibom State are set to storm the Agege Stadium to cheer their team to victory.

The winner of the 2017 Aiteo Cup competition will join Enyimba to represent Nigeria at the CAF Confederation Cup next year.

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

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

Published

on

Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

Advertisement

“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

Continue Reading

Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

Published

on

Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

Advertisement

“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

Continue Reading

Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

Published

on

New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

Continue Reading

Most Viewed