Akwa United have won the 2017 Aiteo cup competition after beating Niger Tornadoes 4-3 on penalties. It was Akwa United’s second Federations cup trophy, having won the tournament in 2015.
Just as the victors were lifting the Aiteo cup trophy at the Agege township stadium on Sunday, Oct 15, many questions are being asked about why this year’s tournament seems different from past years.
- First Federations Cup to be sponsored by Aiteo
The Federations cup, now known as Aiteo cup is the oldest national football tournament in Nigeria. However, this is the first time that Nigerian indigenous oil giant, Aiteo would be sponsoring it. Over the years, it had been given different names. In 1942 when it was first held, it was called the War Memorial Challenge Cup. ZAC bombers played Services FC in the 1942 final match, won by ZAC 1-0.
- Record massive turnout
The massive turnout is another thing that football analysts and commentators in the country are talking about. Previous Federations cup finals have been marked by poor attendance and it is common to see empty seats in the stadium. This Aiteo cup final is different; on October 15, the 4,000 capacity Agege township stadium was packed full of spectators who had come to see the final match of Nigeria’s most enduring and consistent football tournament. There were also many notable people in attendance. Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel and Niger State governor Abubakar Sani Bello were present. CAF President Ahmad Ahmad, First Vice President Kwesi Nyantakyi, Second Vice President Constant Omari Selemani and CAF Emergency Committee member, Souleiman Waberi also attended the event, as well as the NFF President Amaju Pinick, NFF First Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi and LMC boss Shehu Dikko.
- Harvest of goals
Another notable feature of the AIteo cup is the sheer number of goals we have seen. 189 goals were scored by 64 teams in 125 matches, within two months. Moreover, the tournament has given us some of the widest goal margins in recent times, including a 7-0 lashing of Katsina United feeders team by Akwa United in the quarterfinals. We have also seen impressive goal-scoring from strikers with three players netting up to five goals. Highest goal scorer is Christian Pyagbara (Akwa Utd) with 7 goals, followed by Godwin Obaje (FC IfeanyiUbah) with 6 goals, and Ajibola Otegbeye (Sunshine Stars) with 5 goals.
- The Prize money
Aiteo’s money made a huge difference this time and the money is reflected in the huge publicity given to the competition as updates and detailed analyses were circulated in the traditional media as well as online platforms. The tournament seems to be larger this year, not only because of the size of attendance and the publicity, but also because of the size of the prize money. Akwa United, the winners of the tournament, got N25 million, while Niger Tornadoes who were runners up, won N10.