2018 AITEO CUP: CAN RANGERS SUSTAIN UNBEATEN RUN?

2018 AITEO CUP: CAN RANGERS SUSTAIN UNBEATEN RUN?

BY APESIN ADEMOLA.

 

The day is here to crown Nigeria’s cup champions which will go ahead to represent the country in the 2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup. It promises to be a carnival in Asaba, but the combatants will be focused on working their way to lifting the trophy.

 

Enugu Rangers understand the tournament more than their opponents from the Groundnut Pyramid city of Kano. Not only have the former won the cup in its different formats for five times – the last time being 1983 – they had also played the final as recent as 2007, unlike Pillars, whose only hurrah in this competition was in 1953. And they were last in the final 27 years ago.

 

Rangers stopped Nasarawa United 4-2 in the semi-final  and were responsible for the elimination of defending champions Akwa United in the last eight on penalties.

 

The Flying Antelopes had played the preceding group stage at the Kano centre where they won one and drew two matches to win the section that also featured El-Kanemi Warriors, Supreme Court FC of Abuja and Sunshine Stars.

 

In the Round of 32, Rangers gained from a no-show by Kebbi United. That was after they had survived the scare by Niger Tornadoes Feeders in the Round of 64. The minnows fought gamely to end the match goalless at regulation time before the elite club won 5-4 in the shootouts.

 

Throughout the national phase of this year’s Aiteo Cup Rangers have not conceded defeat, the only team with such a feat.

 

Pillars survived Katsina United in the last four after a deadlock (2-2) in 90 minutes leading to 4-1 penalty victory. The Masu Gida stopped CAF Confederation Cup semifinalists Enyimba 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

 

Pillars were in Lagos for the group stage and finished second behind Kwara United after winning two matches and losing 1-2 to Abia Warriors.

 

They had overcome Sokoto United in the Round of 32 and pipped unfancied Ngwa United of Ebonyi State 3-2 in the Round of 64.

 

Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba should be jam-packed with fans coming from Kano, Enugu and other parts of the country to witness the last match of the 2017/18 season in the country.

 

Fixture: Enugu Rangers (Enugu) v Kano Pillars (Kano) (4:30pm

 

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