Home Sports Football Federation Cup: El-Kanemi Warriors clinch 3rd title, book spot in Confed Cup

Federation Cup: El-Kanemi Warriors clinch 3rd title, book spot in Confed Cup

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The newly promoted Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) side, El-Kanemi Warriors, have won this year’s President’s Cup by defeating Abia Warriors 2-0 in the final at Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos, on Saturday.

The Maiduguri side thus secured Nigeria’s second CAF Confederation Cup ticket for next season and will vie for honours in Africa’s second-tier club competition alongside Enyimba, who earlier sealed their spot after finishing third in the 2023–24 Nigeria Premier Football League standings.

Midfielder Nasiru Salihu stole the show, scoring both goals, one in each half, as the Bornu Army claimed their third Federation Cup title after triumphs in 1991 and 1992.

Aliyu Zubairu’s side were not the favourites heading into the battle of Warriors, but they showed a sense of purpose from the start and created the first real chance of the game inside 15 minutes, winning a penalty after Aryamin Umar was hacked in the Abia Warriors box.

Abia Warriors goalkeeper Ali Ishaku, however, guessed correctly to his left and denied Nasiru Salihu from the spot.

El-Kanemi Warriors kept up their intensity, and there was no denying Salihu again in the 32nd minute, as the midfielder finished off a beautiful team move to give the Maiduguri side the lead.

The delightful side came close again in the 40th minute, but Gimba Ajiji couldn’t beat Ishaku in a one-on-one situation that could have doubled the lead going into the break.

Despite Coach Samson Obi’s multiple halftime substitutions, the Abia Warriors still lacked the willpower to bring themselves back into the game.

El-Kanemi Warriors were comfortably in control of the second half and could have doubled the lead in the 63rd minute, but Jacob Jonathan dragged a well-crafted chance wide after being played through by Ajiji.

Five minutes later, Salihu was again at the end of another swift team move and poked the ball home from close range to make the scoreline 2-0 for Zubairu’s side.

There was no coming back for Abia Warriors, as Salihu’s brilliance epitomised the underrated quality of the Maiduguri side.

Meanwhile, in the women’s final played earlier that day at the same venue, a first-half stoppage time penalty by Blessing Okpe was all Rivers Angels needed to edge Naija Ratels, claiming their ninth title.

The women’s final, an enthralling encounter between the Angels from Garden City and Naija Ratels from the Federal Capital, which kicked off at 1 pm beside the Lagos Waterfront.

Coach Whyte Ogbonda, who lifted his first trophy as head coach, praised his players for their dedication, resilience and hard work. “This victory is a testament to the team’s resilience and determination. We are thrilled to be champions of the President Federation Cup”.

Naija Ratels’ head coach, Bankole Olowookere, commended his young squad for their progress to the final. “Although we did not get the desired result, I am proud of my players for their fighting spirit. We will learn from this experience and come back stronger”.

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