BY SAMUEL AHMADU
The 6th edition of Sheroes Cup commenced at the Aguiyi Ironsi Military Cantonment in Abuja on Saturday.
The opening day was a vibrant showcase of talent and unity, set against the backdrop of a festive atmosphere that captivated the audience. The event was graced by prominent dignitaries, including Nigeria’s Super Falcons captain, Onome Ebi, who added prestige to the occasion.
In an electrifying opening match, former Sheroes Cup champions, Edo Queens, demonstrated their prowess by defeating newcomers to the Premiership of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL), Ekiti Queens, with a resounding 4-1 victory.
The four goals for Edo Queens were scored in the first half, with Goodness Osigwe, Suliat Abideen, Omotoke Odueke, and Emem Essien all finding the back of the net. Ekiti Queens’ lone goal came from Seun Fakunle.
The subsequent clash between Naija Ratels and Sunshine Queens, which marked the official kick-off of the pre-season tournament, unfolded at the same venue. Naija Ratels secured a 2-1 victory, courtesy of goals from Augustina Unamba and Bankole Sofiat. Sunshine Queens managed a consolation goal from Eunice Ezeani.
Nkechi Obi, Chairman of NWFL, made a significant statement during the event. She stated, “This competition has been instrumental in helping clubs prepare for the new season by assessing their players, especially newcomers. It is an excellent platform for private or corporate bodies to showcase their initiatives and support human development efforts.”
She further revealed exciting news, adding, “In the coming season, the NWFL management will be unveiling a welfare package for players, demonstrating our commitment to the growth of women’s football.”
The President of Ratels Sports Development Foundation (RSDF), Barr. Paul Edeh, presided over the official opening ceremony and emphasized the tournament’s significance.
He highlighted the RSDF’s unwavering commitment to funding the competition since its inception in 2019, praising its role in preparing teams for the NWFL premiership and international competitions such as the CAF Women’s Champions League.
Edeh also extended gratitude to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Referees Committee, led by Mrs. Faith Irabor, for their dedication to improving officiating standards, both during the pre-season and the regular season. He urged for enhanced officiating throughout the competition.
Mrs. Faith Irabor, the Chairperson of the NFF Referees Committee, outlined ongoing efforts to elevate Nigerian referees to international standards, underscoring the Federation’s commitment to enhancing the quality of officiating in the sport.
Regarding the tournament’s format, Coach Haruna Ilerika, Chairman of the Organising Committee and FCT FA Secretary, explained that all six participating teams would initially engage in round-robin games. The top two teams would then compete in the final, while the third and fourth-ranked clubs would face off in a third-place match.
The action continued on Sunday at Abacha Barracks pitch, with the eagerly anticipated only match of the day between Dannaz Ladies and Honey Badgers, ending in a 2-2 draw.
It’s worth noting that Delta Queens, the reigning champions, are absent from this edition, with Imo Strikers having triumphed in the NWFL Championship earlier in 2023.