By FRED EDOREH
The 2018 Lagos FA Cup has been scheduled to kick off on May 1 with Ighalo FC and Regal FC raising the curtain in the first round of the preliminaries involving 44 unseeded clubs.
Draws for the preliminaries of the competition was conducted on Thursday afternoon at the Lagos SWAN Secretariat, National Stadium, Lagos, with both the Chairman and Director General of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr Kweku Tandoh and Babatunde Bank-Anthony gracing the occasion to support the Lagos FA board members led by Vice Chairman, Tade Azeez and the sponsors, Winners Golden Bet, led by Deji Beecroft.
Azeez revealed that 91 teams comprising 87 men and 4 women football clubs were entered for this edition. While the women category will go into straight semi finals, the men will go through two preliminary rounds to produce 11 teams which will join the 21 seeded national football league clubs to make the round of 32. All matches of the completion will be held at the Agege and Teslim Balogun stadiums until the quarter finals by which all action will hold at the Agege Stadium.
Admonishing the teams to sustain the legendary excellence of Lagos, Azeez warmed that there will be “zero tolerance” for any form of hooliganism.
“Let us stand by the excellence for which Lagos is known for and not be involved in any act that can bring the game to disrepute.”
While praising the LSFA for their good works and assuring them of the total support of the Lagos Sports Commission, Tandoh commended the sponsors, Winners Golden Bet, for sustaining their sponsorship for the past the long years and urged them to also consider investing in other sports to support the commission’s bid for a balanced development of sports in the state.
Equally commending the sponsors and the LSFA, Bank Anthony said they have brought back the glory of the competition as the Lagos FA Cup had always been a big and important competition in the calendar of Lagos sports.
Representative of the WGB, Deji Beecroft, enthused that their association with the LSFA through sponsorship of the FA Cup has been rewarding and a source of pride.
“We remain happy to be associated with the Lagos FA Cup and we will continue to do our best. Partnering with the LSFA has given us a lot of visibility such that we shot up quickly in the sector and not many people realize that we were just about fours years in operation,” Beecroft said.
“The organisation of the games has always been satisfactory, the referees have been fanstastic to maintain the integrity of the competition such that any team can win. Notwithstanding the presence of top clubs competing in the national leagues, if you prepare well, you can win.”
WGB’s Assistant General Manager, Marketing, Patricia Popoola, told representatives of the participating clubs that apart from the prizes for the overall winners, there are various other individual rewards for as many participants.
“Lagos FA Cup is a platform where raw talents abound and we are happy to be involved to raise champions. It is such that when you look back you see how many you have helped to develop. It is a source of joy. Apart from the major prizes, there are various other individual prizes on offer this time. They include prizes for the MVP for every match from the preliminaries to the finals, the men and women MVPs for the tournament, highest goal scorers, best referees, best goal keepers. Indeed, we want to ensure that every participant gets a souvenir.”
Technical head of the LSFA, Dotun Coker, indicated that the competition this year will be intensive in order to meet the deadline set by the Nigeria Football Federation for the completion of state FA Cups.
“We have fixed the finals for May 27 to meet the set deadline and I want to prepare the minds of the national league clubs to be prepared to play back-to-back games.”
Coker also revealed that there is a plan for EKo Football Awards at which presentation of prizes at the end of the competition will be done in a more formal gala setting rather than on the pitch as has been the practice.