FOR THE 2ND TIME IN 75 YEARS, NO NATIONAL FOOTBALL CUP IN NIGERIA

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The Nigeria football season for 2019/20 has come to an end. That is the high point of the online meeting of the Football Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Friday.

Consequently, the Aiteo Cup, which is the national football cup competition in the country, will not hold. The national cup is the equivalent of The FA Cup in England or Copa del Rey in Spain.

This is the second time in 75 years that Nigeria will not have a national cup competition.The only other year it failed to hold was in 1973 when the then NFA complained it had a congested schedule.  

It was the year of the All Africa Games in January and the beginning of the National Sports Festival.

So congested was the NFA scheduled that Mighty Jets, which represented the country in the then Africa Cup of Champions Clubs, now CAF Champions’ League, had to pull out of the competition at the Round Two stage when the club was scheduled to face VITA Club of Zaire (now Congo DR).

The entire Mighty Jet squad composed the Benue Plateau State team to the football event of the maiden National Sports Festival.

Apart from the cancellation of the Aiteo Cup, all other leagues apart from the flagship, the NPFL, also suffer the same fate.

Second tier league, the NNL, which has some of the deep-rooted football clubs such as the Shooting Stars and Bendel Insurance, has been cancelled and declared null and void.

The NNL has been bedeviled as the 2019/2020 season could not go beyond match day 2 to 5 before going on break on 17 December 2019.

 Therefore, “there will be no promotion to, or relegation, from NNL”, declared a communiqué released by the NFF.

The NFF Football Committee merely ratified the earlier recommendation by the clubs’ chairmen who voted for Points Per Game (PPG) table compilation for the ranking of the teams in order to ensure sporting merit and sporting fairness. 

Consequently, the names of the top three clubs on the NPFL final PPG table as at Matchday 25 shall be submitted to CAF to represent Nigeria in the 2020/2021 CAF Inter – Club competitions.

This comprises of two slots for CAF Champions League and a slot for CAF Confederation Cup. The two clubs for the Champions League will therefore be Plateau United and Rivers United.

Lobi Stars will take the first slot for the CAF Confederation Cup and last year winner of the Aiteo Cup; Kano Pillars will take the second slot.