A Rabiu Ali first half strike was all Kano Pillars needed to beat fellow NPFL side Lobi Stars to lift the 2017 Gold Cup pre-season tournament trophy on Friday.
Both teams, winners of the last two editions of the competition met at the Kwara State Sports Complex, Ilorin and it took just over half an hour for the game to be settled when Ali spurned an offside trap to finish off the inside of the post.
The Gold Cup tournament is an annual pre-season challenge predominantly designed to help league teams prepare for the new season, Nigeria’s version of the International Football Cup contested for by clubs across Europe and America. The 2017 edition had seven Nigeria Professional Football League teams in attendance with two of the remaining three – ABS and Remo Stars – just relegating to the second tier at the end of last season.
Friday’s final which marked an end to the two-week long competition was witnessed by dignitaries which included a former Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Federation, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi. Pillars match winner Ali was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while Lobi Stars goalkeeper, John Lawrence claimed the Best Goalkeeper gong.
Kano Pillars will now step up their pre-season preparations with the NPFL Invitational tournament billed to start on December 11 at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
The new Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season has been fixed to commence on January 14, 2018.