*Sad we could not achieve the double
By Olayinka Elebute
Current Premier league champions, Plateau United FC of Jos, were bundled out of the Aiteo Cup by their North-Central brothers, Niger Tornadoes FC of Minna.
The Minna side came into the game with a lot of pride having won the first leg by 2-0 an advantage that will determine their progression into the Aiteo Cup semi-final, while Plateau United are aware of the herculean task at hand.
Plateau United had the opportunity to set the ball rolling with the kickoff and they dominated play until the 18th minute when Tornadoes’ youngster, Ibrahim Babawo, punched on a loose ball to compound the woes of the host. At this stage the League champions needed more than a miracle to get beyond the Aiteo Cup quarter-finals stage.
The goal is just the bait the Minna landlords needed to explore the day. Plateau United started chasing the shadows of victory despite playing well. Ibrahim Babawo is not done yet as he took on the aging Plateau United defence with his speed and veteran Emmanuel Olowo was his prey and he committed an obvious foul on the youngster in the box. Referee Ben Odey pointed to the spot and Isah Hussaini converted to make it two for the visitors. They then made the tourney stay beyond the reach of the league champions, to end the half in their favour.
Niger Tornadoes continued from where they stopped in the first half but Plateau United are desperate not to bury their pride with a defeat at home. With Bature Yaro and Emeka Umeh leading the attack and their effort were rewarded in the ticking minutes of the game when Emeka Umeh was fouled by Sunday Akinmoladun and Bature Yaro stepped forward for the penalty and he converted to restore the host’s hope of a comeback.
With tempo rising from the two teams, Isah Abdulkadir of Tornadoes made a vicious tackle on Sunday Ingbede of Plateau and the Centre Referee never hesitated to show him the way out.
The game will go down as one of the games with the most cards. The referee issued out a total of seven yellow cards with five going to Niger Tornadoes and two for Plateau United and a red card to Tornadoes as well.
With just four minutes to go, Sunday Akinmoladun was the culprit again. He handled the ball in the box and another penalty for the league champions. Bature Yaro yet again stepped forward to make it two for his team whereby saving his team’s poor performance on the day.
Plateau United were able to save their pride by not losing out at home with the two goal apiece result.
Speaking on his team’s victory, Niger Tornadoes’ coach Abubakar Bala is happy that his plans for the federation cup is coming to fruition. His words: “when you plan very well and you stick to your plan you are bound to make progress and that’s what we have just done.”
His team plays Ifeanyi Ubah for the semi-finals. Coach Abubakar Bala’s response goes thus: “we will have to re-strategise for them by looking at our weak points in this game and improve on our strong areas to advance, because our dream is to play the finals of Aiteo Cup’ he said.
Captain of the league champions, Elisha Golbe, “its sad that we are out of the Aiteo Cup and we know we fought a good fight but there is nothing we could do about it. Well, its our dream to do the double but since it did not happen we just need to go and start planning for next season and the Champions League’.
Sunshine Stars will play Akwa United FC of Uyo.