AITEO Cup Semi-final Preview: Akwa’s “Big Five” return

AITEO Cup Semi-final Preview: Akwa’s “Big Five” return

Semi-final first leg matches in the men and women’s competitions of Nigeria’s Club Football Cup, AITEO Cup will take centre stage on Saturday.

Eight top division sides will battle out for a place in the final later this month as they bid to earn #25m and #10m as the Men and Women’s prize money respectively.

Women’s draw
Last year’s finalists Bayelsa Queens and Rivers Angels will face in an Old Rivers derby at the Nembe Stadium.

The game qualifies as the tie of the round as both teams look evenly matched in addition to the rivalry and shared history among them.

Two players who lined out for Bayelsa last season, Rofiat Sule and the irrepressible Patience Kalu will hope to get one over their former employers who finished ahead of Angels in their Women Premier League group.

In the other semi-final, Ibom Angels will welcome back-door entrant Confluence Queens to Uyo in the first leg of their duel.

Queens had been eliminated by Abia Angels in the quarter finals but they were reinstated after their conquerors were found guilty of fielding ineligible players in their second leg game in Lokoja.

Men’s draw
The return of Akwa United’s five national team players is the major talking point as the 2015 Champions face Sunshine Stars in their first leg tie in Ijebu-Ode.

United emphatically dispatched Shooting Stars and Katsina United Feeders in the absence of the quintet of Afeez Aremu, Ubong Friday, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Gabriel Okechukwu and Emmanuel Ariwachukwu although the latter trio made cameo appearances in the second leg game at Katsina on Wednesday.

The game should also have special meanings to Aremu and goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo who both face their former team on Saturday.

Sunshine Stars also have a fully fit squad to choose from and their striker, Sikiru Alimi expects a tough game at the Dipo Dina Stadium.

“Akwa United are a good side and have some of the best legs in the league. Playing against them says a lot so I’m expecting a tough game from them,” said the former Warri Wolves striker.

In the other semi-final action, reigning Cup champions FC Ifeanyiubah will face Niger Tornadoes at the Confluence Stadium in Lokoja.

Yaw Preko’s Ifeanyiubah must still make do without the injured Olamilekan Aniyikaye and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa for the first leg clash on Saturday.

All second leg matches in both men and women categories will hold on Wednesday, October 4.

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