Kano Pillars beat Niger Tornadoes 4-3 to break 29-year Aiteo Cup hoodoo
• Nasarawa Amazons win women’s trophy
• Sponsors pledge continuous support for Nigerian football
They danced to a different rhythm yesterday at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna. From the blast of the whistle, Kano Pillars painted the picture of a side ready to do everything possible to end their Aiteo Cup bad luck. And even when their opponents, Niger Tornadoes showed they were not in Kaduna to help Kano Pillars win a trophy they missed narrowly last season, the Sai Masu Gida held their cool, while searching for the holy grail.
Last year, Kano Pillars inexplicably squandered a 3-0 lead to lose the trophy to Enugu Rangers via a penalty shoot out.
Thunder threatened to strike on the same spot yesterday when the game dragged to another penalty shoot out. But this term, the elements were in Pillars’ favour.
With Nwangua Nyima and David Odenigbo leading Pillars’ attack with support from ageless captain, Rabiu Alli in the midfield, the Kano team held the upper hand in the first half of the match. Their superior possession, however, could not result to the goal they wanted so badly.
Goalkeeper and skipper, Mustapha Aliko was the busier of the two shot stoppers yesterday as he dived and punched out everything the Kano boys threw at him, while at the other end, Ahmadu Liman and Ismaila Sarki forayed for the winner for the Ikon Allah boys. At the end, there were not many clear-cut chances as the game dragged to a goalless ending.
In the ensuing penalty shoot-out, Rabiu Ali opened scores for Pillars but Saib Dosso responded well. Chris Madaki and Mohammed Hussaini wasted their kicks, as did Adamu Hassan and Reuben Ogbonnaya. Yaro Bature and Victor Dennis then scored for Pillars, as did Eric Frimpong and Obinna Jacob for Tornadoes.
In sudden death, Pillars’ defender Emmanuel Anyanwu made good from the spot, but Ayo Adetola booted his kick over the bar to end Kano Pillars’ 29-year search for the trophy.
Earlier, Nasarawa Amazons defeated defending champions, Rivers Angels 5-4 also through a penalty shoot out to win the women version of the competition.
For their efforts, Kano Pillars won the N25 million first prize, while Tornadoes got N10 million.
The women champions, Nasarawa Amazons got N10 million, while Rivers Angels took home N5 million courtesy of Aiteo Group.
Speaking at the end of the game, Aiteo’s Executive Vice Chairman, Benedict Peters, whose company sponsors the competition, said, “we remain elated for the opportunity to continue to develop national sports, impact football in particular, as we have done and especially to support a hallowed competition that continue to pass the test of time.”
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