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FEDERATION CUP

Bendel Insurance, Enugu Rangers in Federation Cup trilogy

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Flash Back! Bendel Insurance and Enugu Rangers first battled for the national cup in 1978

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

It is a trilogy as Enugu Rangers and Bendel Insurance meet for the third time in the title match of the Nigeria’s national football cup, the Federation Cup in Asaba on Wednesday.

The encounter at the Stephen Keshi Stadium is akin to tie-breaker for the two legacy clubsides who had contested the 1978 title as well as that of 1981.

Bendel Insurance, rejuvenated at the 1978 final came up with a band of talented footballers who took the final stage by storm, dispatching the then heavily feared Enugu Rangers by 3-0; thanks to  

Peter Eghareva free kick and a brace by Henry Ogboe.  

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But Enugu Rangers had their pound of flesh in 1981 final match after goals from Humphrey Okechukwu and Ifeanyi Onyeadika propelled the coal city boys to a  2-0 win.

For Bendel Insurance, Wednesday encounter could be a thunder and blood battle. Just two weeks ago, they had the opportunity of picking ticket to any of the two continental inter-clubs via both the NPL play-off and the Federation Cup.

In the NPL play-off they missed out in the top three finish and even ended up as the bottom runners up.

Another opportunity looms to pick the second ticket to the CAF Confederation Cup.

Event at the Stephen Keshi Stadium will decide. The pitch already looks a fertile ground for Enugu Rangers who put up one of the most dramatic comeback episodes in the competition’s history in 2018.

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They came back from three goals down to dramatically beat Kano Pillars to the title via penalty shoot-out. It was their first title since 1983 when coincidentally, they won through the first ever penalty shoot-out in the final match.

Can they do it again?

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.

FEDERATION CUP

‘War’ looms in Abuja!

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The first ever Federation Cup final match in Abuja next week has already set up a titanic battle as two warriors are set to ignite the field. Abia Warriors, featuring in their first ever national cup final duel will face another warring sides, the El-Kanemi Warriors in the final match of Nigeria’s oldest Club competition.

It is the fourth time that El-Kanemi are playing the final match after their successes in 1991 and 1992 and becoming losing finalists to the defunct Dolphins in 2001.

Both Abia Warriors and El-Kanemi Warriors came out winners in tough semi-final duels on Thursday.

The Abia State giants sailed into the final after a 4-3 penalty shootout defeat of Kano Pillars at the Lafia City Stadium, with both teams locked at a scoreless situation after 90 minutes.

Former winners El-Kanemi Warriors also triumphed 5-4 after a penalty shootout over surprise semi-finalists Kebbi United at the NFF/FIFA Goal Project in Abuja, with both teams also unable to find the net in the 90-minute regulation period.

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In the shootouts, Pillars’ forward Ibrahim Mustapha vitiated the need for Abia Warriors to take their last kick after missing his team’s last kick. Pillars missed two of their five kicks while Abia Warriors converted all their four kicks.

In Abuja, hard-fighting Kebbi United fluffed their second kick in the shootout, while El-Kanemi Warriors converted all their five to make the progress to nearby MKO Abiola National Stadium for the grand finale on 29th June.  

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FEDERATION CUP

President Federation Cup: Finalists in women’s competition to emerge on Sunday

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The two teams that will contest for the women’s trophy in this year’s President Federation Cup will be known by the evening of Sunday, 23rd June, following the semi final matches in Enugu and Awka.

In-form Rivers Angels of Port Harcourt, who are not unfamiliar with triumph in the women’s version of the oldest Cup competition in the land, will confront Delta Queens in Awka, while exciting newcomers Remo Stars Ladies tango with Abuja landladies Naija Ratels at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu. Both matches will kick off at 4pm.

Last year’s runners-up, Rivers Angels unhinged Osun Babes 5-0 in an imperious performance at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on Wednesday, at the time that Nasarawa Amazons were being eliminated on penalty shootout by Remo Stars Ladies in Benin City.

Naija Ratels also experienced penalty shootout jitters, before they sent FC Robo Queens of Lagos packing at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.

Delta Queens dealt a 2-0 blow on Sunshine Queens from Akure in the earlier match in Benin City, and will go all out against Rivers Angels in Awka on Sunday.

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The grand finale of both the men’s and women’s competitions has been scheduled for the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday, 29th June – the first time that the grand finale of Nigeria’s oldest Cup competition will be staged in the city.

WOMEN’S SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES

  • Remo Stars Ladies (Ogun) Vs Naija Ratels (FCT) – Enugu – 23/06/24 – 4pm
  • Delta Queens (Delta) Vs Rivers Angels (Rivers) – Awka – 23/06/24 – 4pm 
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FEDERATION CUP

President Federation Cup: Remo Stars, Rivers Angels, Delta Queens & Naija Ratels reach semi finals!

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Multi-titlists Rivers Angels have zoomed into the last four of this year’s President Federation Cup in style, after a 5-0 hammering of Osun Babes in Enugu on Wednesday.

Abuja-based Naija Ratels also reached the semi finals, following a 5-4 penalty shootout defeat of FC Robo Queens of Lagos at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba. Both teams ended the regulation period with scoreline at 1-1.

Delta Queens cut Sunshine Queens from Akure to size with a 2-0 defeat at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.

Also in Benin City, Remo Stars Ladies continued their fairy-tale run in this year’s competition with a 3-2 penalty shootout defeat of veteran campaigners Nasarawa Amazons, after both teams were stalemated at 1-1 following regulation time.

On Thursday, the finalists will emerge in the men’s competition, with Abia Warriors up against Kano Pillars at the Lafia City Stadium, and Kebbi United up against El-Kanemi Warriors at the NFF/FIFA Goal Project in Abuja. Both games will commence at 4pm.

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WOMEN’S SEMI-FINAL PAIRINGS

  • Remo Stars Ladies (Ogun) Vs Naija Ratels (FCT)
  • Delta Queens (Delta) Vs Rivers Angels (Rivers)
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