Aiteo Cup

Akwa United champions have been eliminated from this year’s Aiteo Cup after a 1–2 defeat to Nigerian National League team, Kogi United, in the round of 16 of the competition played on Sunday at the UNEC playground in Enugu.

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Kogi United took the lead in the first minute of play when Akwa United’s backline failed to fend off a dangerous ball into the penalty area, allowing John to hit Jerome home from close range.

The Promise Keepers established their authority in the game, pushing for a draw in the first half of the match, but were kept at bay by the NNL squad who also lost a glorious chance to double their lead at halftime. The goalkeeper Adewale Adeyinka made a brilliant save to reject them.

Coach Ayodeji Ayeni’s team went to half-time behind zero at Kogi United – the first goal conceded in three games – despite having more ball possession.

Upon resumption of play, Akwa United stepped up the pressure and rushed forward in search of a draw, but David Onovo, Ubong Friday, Bello Babatunde, and Samuel Amadi failed to hit the target due to a poor shot, and Kogi United’s tenacious defense. Coach Ayeni brought in young forward Leo Ezekiel in place of Austin Osayande and the youngster impressed almost immediately, his header just missing the target from a Samuel Amadi corner.

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Moments later, Leo saw his volley from David Onovo’s cross hit the post but it wouldn’t have counted as he was in an offside position when the pass was accepted.

Akwa United’s pressure paid off in the 67th minute as a cross was blocked by Bello Babatunde
Femi Adewumi in the penalty area and the referee rightly awarded Akwa United a penalty. Captain Ubong Friday got it right as the two-time champions tied the game.

Buoyed by the equaliser, Akwa United pushed for the winner but Bello Babatunde, Leo Ezekiel, Samuel Amadi, and David Onovo failed to find the goal.

However, the NNL team scored the winning goal against the game period in the 80th minute thanks to enterprising striker Abdulwahab Jubril who completed a good team move to secure Kogi United’s place in the quarter-finals of the oldest. Nigeria’s club football competition, crushing Akwa United are hoping for a third FA Cup win in seven years and a taste of continental football next season.

Coach Ayodeji Ayeni’s team that finished the NPFL season just ended in 9th place kicked off their Aiteo Cup campaign by beating NLO Essien Ayi FC team 0-3 in Aba, then defeating Remo Stars with the same margin in the round of 16 before the defeat against Kogi United in the round of 16.


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