UNILAG gets FUTA, EKSU, OAU as organisers unveil groups for 2019 HIFL
The second edition of the Highers Institutions Football League (HIFL) promises tougher battles for schools in the competition, which kicks off on June 8.
Apart from an increase from the 16 teams to 32 of the maiden edition, this year’s draws have some of the best teams grouped together in the league, which gives only the first two teams the right to move to the round of 16.
At the draws and unveiling of the jerseys held in Lagos at the weekend, the 32 teams that qualified for the group stage were divided into eight groups of four teams each starting from Group A to Group H from the Sahel and Coastal divisions.
In Group A are the UNILAG Marines, FUTA Tigers, EKSU Mountaineers and OAU Giants, while Group B has UI Pioneers, AAUA Luminaries, LCU Gladiators and LASU Blazers.
UNIUYO Tuskites will battle with IAUE Minders, DELSU Titans and UNICAL Malabiites in Group C; MOUAU Bloomers, RSU Dolphins, ESUT Explorers and NDU Oilers are in Group D, just as Group E will feature UNIBEN Royals, FUOYE Dazzlers, FUNAI Hawks and UNIZIK Cardinals.
The teams in Group F include NILE Rovers, FUTMINNA Transformers, PLASU Boulders, and UNILORIN Warriors, while Group G plays host to ABU Nobles, KUST Pyramid, ATBU Bravehearts and UNIMAID Dessert Warriors, just as Group H has BUK Stallions, NSUK Miners, BSU Weavers and defending champions, UAM Tillers.
According to the organisers, Pace Sports and Entertainment Marketing, games of the group stage will be held across the eight host institutions that were automatically ceded for the draws for ease of logistics and facilities.
Explaining the reasoning behind the modalities for the draws, the Director of PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Mr. Sola Fijabi said the format was reviewed to enhance the league and create more excitement for its teeming fans.
“HiFL is a game changing initiative and it is heart-warming that the league has gained acceptance across higher institutions in Nigeria. We have reviewed the rules of the game in line with our experiences from last year and global trends in football and collegiate sports. We have done this in conjunction with our partner, the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) and other technical partners. Our desire is to create a league that would be of pride to us as a company, the Nigerian universities and indeed our esteemed sponsors,” Fijabi said.
He revealed that matches of the group stage would be played over 21 weeks, while “the round of 16 will be played in a return leg elimination onward the finals where the Super Four teams will play in a grand finale to be held at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos.”
Fijabi disclosed that one of the major sponsors of the league, StanbicIBTC recently signed a five-year deal with the league, adding, “Our sponsors have been very supportive. We truly appreciate their alignment with the HiFL vision. While we acknowledge the commercial involvement, more appreciated is their support for the social development of Nigerian youths through sports. We sincerely hope that these engagements will yield the desirable outcomes in due course”.
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