Saturday, November 21, 2015 7:25 pm
By Taiwo Adelu.
As Nigerian football fraternity converge in Lagos for the FA Cup Finals on Sunday, all eyes are on the two gladiators, Lobi Stars of Markudi and Akwa United of Uyo as to who will be crowned the champions.
Ahead of the men’s final, which holds from 3pm on Sunday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Justin Tenger, Manager of Lobi side is already talking tough. He warned that their opponents, Akwa United should forget about the trophy.
Lobi won the FA Cup, which is now called the Federation Cup, once 12 years ago after they beat Sharks 2-0 in the final, but their last two attempts to lift the trophy in 2005 and 2012 were frustrated by Enyimba and Heartland respectively.
Akwa United on their part are taking part in their very first Federation Cup final.
“This is our Cup this year, “ said Tenger. “Akwa United should expect a baptism of fire on Sunday. I remember that the last time we met they beat us in Uyo, but Lagos is a different venue. They should prepare for war,” the coach boasted.
To get to the final, Lobi beat Enugu Rangers 1-0 in a semi final tie in Katsina, while Akwa United got the better of Nasarawa United 1-0 in a tie decided in Abeokuta Ogun State.
For the women’s category, it will be Bayelsa Queens against Sunshine Queens in the final which kicks off by 12noon.
Bayelsa Queens beat Confluence Queens 1-0, while Sunshine Queens edged out Amazon Queens on penalties 3-2 after playing 0-0 in regulation time in the semi finals decided few months ago.
The winners in the men’s cadre will go home with a cash reward of N2million while the runners-up take N1million and the women’s winners take N1million while the runners-up take home N.5million. There are equally cash rewards for fair play, top scorer and most valuable players for the cadres.
Meanwhile, the host, Lagos State Sports Commission is leaving nothing to chance to ensure a glamorous Federation Cup Final is staged. As part of effort to mobilise fans to the stadium, the first 500 fans to come to the stadium will be given free T-shirts, while all fans, who will receive free passes to the stadium, will also get a raffle ticket each for them to win cash prize of N200 , 000.
The Sports Commission said on its twitter handle Saturday that “Apart from cash prizes, fans win: 3 GOtv sets, 3 electric Irons, 3 Tiger Generators, 3 DVD Sets & 3 Standing fans.
“All Family Passes to be collected on Matchday at GATE K, Teslim Balogun. We are expecting you.
“Collection of FREE PASSES ongoing @ Teslim, Onikan & Agege Stadia; Rowe Park & Campos Square. Distribution ends @ 6:30pm Saturday #FedCupFinal2015.”
Three posthumous awards and nine others for football legends will be given to selected Nigerians during the final ceremony.
“Three posthumous awards will be given to past football heroes, while nine awards will also be given to some living football legends including referee and sports journalist, “ the Director General of Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr Ayodele Agbesanwa said.
The 2015 Federation’s Cup Honorary list include former Shooting Stars striker, Rashidi Yekinni, Baba Otu Mohammed of Mighty Jets, Best Ogedegbe, former Standard of Jos defender, Okey Isima, Friday Ekpo , Sam Opone, Amusa Adisa, Inua Rigogo, Dairu Sadi, and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi Onyedika of Enugu Rangers. Others are FIFA graded referee Linus MBA, and veteran journalist, Segun Adenuga.
Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has also described Lagos as the home of Nigeria’s FA Cup because the state has conveniently hosted the Cup Finals in the last few years.
During the regime of erstwhile Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, the government signed a five-year sponsorship deal for the hosting of the finals of the annual competition. The deal entering its third year in 2015.
Speaking on the glamour Lagos has added to the staging of the FA Cup, First Vice President of the NFF, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi said that the football body is happy with the magnanimity of the people and government of Lagos State in playing hosts to the Cup Finals.
He specifically thanked Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for giving the nod for the hosting of the Finals this year even at the short notice.
“The NFF knows that the FA Cup normally has a home anywhere in the world and I think Lagos is playing that traditional role perfectly.
“We have to commend the government of Lagos State because the short notice for the Federation Cup finals showed that only Lagos could have stepped in to meet the challenges, “said Akinwunmi who is also the Lagos State Football Association chairman