Aiteo Cup : Bayelsa United Dent Rivers United Hopes Of Continental Football
By Hananeel Jackson
Bayelsa United on Friday made history to become the first Nigeria National League NNL, side in recent years to book a place in the final of Nigeria’s most prestigious tournament, the AITEO Cup formerly known as FA or Federation Cup.
Bayelsa United forward Okardi Inikurogha gave the Yenagoa based side the lead from a sublime goal through Hassan Hassan Oladimeji well placed cross in the second half.
Rivers United responded immediately when the centre referee gifted the Port Harcourt side a Penalty kick to aid them with a lifeline into the confederation Cup final. After much deliberation, the game resumed as Bakary Bamba stepped forward to take the penalty but the resultant kick was saved by Bayelsa United goalkeeper John Shaibu.
Hassan Oladimeji had earlier on 60 minutes saved Shedrack Oghali’s effort after Morice Chukwu beat Zikala Tobin but Governor Douye Diri’s half time pep talk to the players when he spoke to them on phones motivated the lads to ensure that the trophy returns home.
Bayelsa United could pick a continental ticket should they win the final and even with a loss could still be on the continent should Nasarawa United finish second in the NPFL.
This is the first time two teams from same state will be playing in the final of Aiteo Cup in Nigeria after Akwa United, joining the likes of Chelsea football club of England, their female counterparts who were in the final of the champions league.
After the encounter, an elated technical Adviser of Bayelsa United Diepreye Teibowei said it was an outstanding performance from his wards despite playing in the NNL, saying that Bayelsa Queens’ exploit in the Aiteo Cup spurred his side against Rivers United.
He noted that the Aiteo Cup was the shortest means of playing in the CAF confederation Cup,adding that prioritizing the welfare of the players by the Management was part of team’s success story.
A disappointed technical Adviser of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma attributed the defeat of his team’s wastefulness and their inability to convert the spot kick describing it as unfortunate.
Coach Eguma opined that their performance in the last two games has marred their chances of going to the continent, stressing that it was a big blow for the pride of Rivers.
Also, Chairman Bayelsa United, Ebiki Timitimi thanked the Almighty God for the victory, pointing out that hard work and grace was the secret behind the success story in the Aiteo Cup.
The pioneer captain of Bayelsa United frowned at the centre referee’s decision to award the dubious penalty to Rivers United, noting that Nigeria football would only improve when there is level playing ground for players to exercise their given talent.
Timitimi thanked the Governor and the Deputy of the state for the financial support given to the team, saying that since he assumed office as chairman funds had never been problem to the team.
Nasarawa United and Bayelsa United will face-off in the final of this year’s AITEO Cup Final on Sunday 8 August, 2021 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, Edo State.
Also, Bayelsa Queens will battle FC Robo Queens in the final of the Women’s category.