Positive and edifying history will be made on Sunday when Niger Tornadoes FC and Akwa United clash at the Agege Stadium for the right to be the first team to hoist the glittering AITEO Cup, freshly delivered for the purpose.
For the umpteenth time, change was effected in the name of the oldest competition in the land in June this year when Nigeria’s leading energy solutions company, AITEO Group, signed a multi –million naira partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation to take over a championship that had been known as Governor’s Cup, Challenge Cup, FA Cup and Federation Cup in its 72 –year history.
AITEO’s money and result –oriented activation strategy has to a large extent restored the well –known glamour of the competition, with a modern streak added to it, and Sunday’s Finale at a venue nicknamed The Soccer Temple will draw the curtain on a two –month long contest that has fully lived up to the name.
A full house is expected at The Soccer Temple to witness a potentially –explosive encounter between two teams gunning to win Nigeria’s oldest competition for the second time.
Tornadoes, who pipped Enugu Rangers 1-0 for their only diadem in 2000, shoved Cup holders FC IfeanyiUbah out of the race at the semi final stage, winning 4-3 on aggregate.
Akwa United, who won in 2015 after edging Lobi Stars 2-1, count eight –time winners Shooting Stars of Ibadan among their victims in this year’s competition.
Apart from pride and desire for one of the most attractive trophies in world football, a princely sum of N25 million awaits the conquerors in Sunday’s battle; the loser to go home with N10 million.
There is also a further motivation of continental football, as the winner will take Nigeria’s second slot in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup competition.
In the women’s event, Cup holders Rivers Angels are standing by for one of Ibom Angels of Uyo and Abia Angels of Umuahia for their own Finale in Jos on Wednesday, 18th October, and a sum of N10 million is ready for the winner of that match; the loser to go home with half that amount.
The guest list for Sunday’s epoch has Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung, CAF President Ahmad, his three vice presidents Kwesi Nyantakyi, Omari Selemani and Fouzi Lekjaa, CAF Emergency Committee members Musa Bility and Souleiman Waberi, FIFA Council member Hany Abo Rida, NFF President Amaju Pinnick (also member of the CAF Emergency Committee), Members of the NFF Executive Committee and NFF Management, Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr and Members of the Lagos State Executive Council.