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Ekeji wants national cup to return to previous name, Challenge Cup



Dr. Patrick Ekeji, ex-international and former Director of Sports

With the finalists emerged for the Federation Cup, former international and erudite ex-sports administrator, Dr. Patrick Ekeji has called for the return to the old name of the 78-year old competition, Challenge Cup.

This, to him is one of the ways that the competition can regain its esteem.

He pointed out that the changing of the name of the competition is one of the reasons for the dwindling stature of the once glamorous tournament.

“Challenge Cup resonates in the minds of all football followers in Nigeria and automatically connects with football, its development and followership”, remarked Ekeji whose profile cut across all sectors of the sports industry in Nigeria.

“This Cup is “synonymous” with the game in our country just like the FA Cup is with the game in England where it has remained so. In my thinking, sponsors of the ever changing name of this historic competition would gain more mileage if their name(s) is linked to the original name as suffix such as: The Challenge Cup — sponsored by .…”


Continuing, Dr. Ekeji remarked: “Indeed, there is something in a name. The Challenge Cup evolved over time into a brand but sadly,  our younger generation football managers failed to link it up as such.”

The present day Federation Cup began as Governor’s Cup in 1945. At the Annual General Meeting of the then NFA held on 28 February 1955, the name was changed to Challenge Cup.

The original trophy was donated by the then Governor-General of Nigeria, Lord Milverton who was formerly known as Sir Arthur Richards. He died on 27 October 1978, 20 days after Bendel Insurance upset form books to beat Enugu Rangers in the final.

Both teams will have an encore this year. The competition changed name to Coca-Cola FA Cup in 1999 when the soft drink producers sponsored the competition.

On 3 June 2009 Head of Media in the NFF, Ademola Olajire announced a change in competition to Federation Cup. On 26 April 2017 it changed to Aiteo Cup. On 1 June 2023, the NFF announced that the competition has changed to NFF/Tingo Federation Cup.


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.

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