*Rabiu Ali was goal hero against Lobi Stars
Kano Pillars beat Lobi Stars 1-0 in the final of the 5th edition of the Gold Cup pre-season tournament to claim their second Gold Cup trophy in three years courtesy of a 33rd minute strike from Rabiu Ali.
The interesting game produced some breath-taking moment for both teams’ avid fans in Ilorin. Kano Pillars created the first chance of the game after four minutes of play when Nyima Nwagua failed to connect Ifeanyi Nweke’s well delivered cross.
Nwagua had another opportunity to score the first goal of the pulsating encounter after receiving a pass from Nzube Anaezemba but his shot went inches wide.
The defending champions were awarded a free kick in the 8th minute of the match when Salau Ibrahim was brought down in the final third by Chris Madaki but Moses Bunde’s poor delivery from the free kick was cleared by Chinedu Udoji.
Evans Ogenyi’s men were denied an opportunity to net the opener in the 28th minute through Ibrahim Salau but Pillars’ goalkeeper David Obiazor pulled a brilliant save.
Ibrahim Musa’s wards scored the only goal of the game in the 33rd minute when Rabiu Ali beat an offside trap before putting the ball past John Lawrence. The first 45 minutes ended with the Pillars claiming a deserved one
The Benue Army came out strong in the second half and created couple of goal scoring chances but Pillars were resolute with their defensive play.
In their bid to get the equaliser, Lobi Stars FC of Makurdi made few changes. Eze Uchenna was introduced for Ibrahim Salau in the 53rd minute while David Tyavkase and Manir Ubale came in for Paul Onobi and Adeshina Thomas. The 75th minute of the exchange saw Lobi Stars weaving around Pillars defence with great passing skills, Duru sent in a lovely pass to Okpotu but Udoji intercepted it with a timely tackle.
Pillars stood their ground and defended their lead as they claimed their second Gold Cup trophy in three years.
However, FC Ebedei’s youngster Batholomew Daniel claimed the top scorer award with three goals, Rabiu Ali was voted the tourney most valuable player while John Lawrence of Lobi Stars was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper.