The clock is ticking down and excitement, anxiety is building across the length and breath of Nigeria towards Sunday, October 15, when Akwa United and Niger Tornadoes football clubs will lock horns at the Soccer Temple, Agege Stadium, Lagos, to determine the champions of Nigeria football in the finals of the Aiteo Cup (renamed from the Federation, FA and Challenge Cup).
Feelers from the cities of Uyo and Minna indicate that transportation tickets have been fully booked by supporters and fans, top government and club officials of both teams as all roads lead to Lagos this weekend for the historical event of who first lifts the rebranded, glittering AITEO Cup, freshly delivered for the purpose.
Lagosians are waiting in bated breath and a full house is expected at The Soccer Temple to witness the expectedly explosive encounter between two teams gunning to win Nigeria’s oldest competition for the second time.
Tornadoes who pipped Enugu Rangers 1- 0 for their only diadem in 2000, shoved cup holders, FC IfeanyiUbah, out of the race at the semi final stage, winning 4-3 on aggregate.
Akwa United who won in 2015 after edging Lobi Stars 2-1, count eight times winners Shooting Stars of Ibadan and Sunshine Stars of Akure whom they bundled out at the semi final by 3-2 aggregate, among their victims in this year’s competition.
So much is at stake in the Aiteo Cup.
Apart from pride and desire for one of the most attractive trophies in world football, a princely sum of N25 million awaits the conquerors in Sunday’s battle while the loser goes home with N10 million.
Even more importantly is the motivation of continental football, as the winner will take Nigeria’s second slot in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup competition.
AITEO’s money and result –oriented activation strategy has to a large extent restored the well –known glamour of the competition, with a modern streak added to it, and Sunday’s Finale at a venue nicknamed The Soccer Temple will draw the curtain on a two-month long contest that has fully lived up to the name.
For the umpteenth time, change was effected in the name of the oldest competition in the land in June this year when Nigeria’s leading energy solutions company, AITEO Group, signed a multi –million naira partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation to take over a championship that had been known as Governor’s Cup, Challenge Cup, FA Cup and Federation Cup in its 72 –year history.
The guest list for Sunday’s epoch has Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung, CAF President Ahmad, his three vice presidents Kwesi Nyantakyi, Omari Selemani and Fouzi Lekjaa, CAF Emergency Committee members Musa Bility and Souleiman Waberi, FIFA Council member Hany Abo Rida.
On hand as chief host is NFF President Amaju Pinnick (also member of the CAF Emergency Committee), members of the NFF Executive Committee, NFF management officials, Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr and members of the Lagos State Executive Council.
The women event will be on on Wednesday, October 18, in Jos, Plateau State, so scheduled to take a slice of the Aiteo action up North and serve as a fitting eve for the Annual General Meeting of the NFF slated for October 19.
Cup holders Rivers Angels are standing by for any of Ibom Angels of Uyo and Abia Angels of Umuahia to emerge for the finals with N10 million ready for the winner while the loser is to go home with half that amount.