Substitute Kabiru Balogun scored with one minute of normal time remaining to earn Nasarawa United United a hard fought 1-0 win over El-Kanemi Warriors in the third quarter final game of the 2018 AITEO Cup decided at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba on Thursday.
Balogun latched onto Zinte Udeh’s flick to bury home a half volley from just inside the penalty box to set up an all NPFL clash with Enugu Rangers in the semi-final next Wednesday.
El-Kanemi enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges in the afternoon sunshine but Nasarawa had the better of clear cut chances in the opening half. Sanusi Ibrahim spurned a glorious effort for Nasarawa just before the half hour mark when he flicked wide from close range with the opposing goalkeeper displaced while Nojeem Olukokun inexplicably fired over the bar from four yards on the dot of half time.
The Solid Miners grew stronger in the second half but it was El-Kanemi who missed the best chance of the opening stages when Suleiman Mohammed also volleyed over from close range.
With the game looking destined for penalties, Balogun was at the right played at the right time to apply a worthy finish to Udeh’s flick to send everyone on the Nasarawa bench into ecstasy.
Nasarawa United will now travel to Kano to face Enugu Rangers in one of the two semi final games billed for next Wednesday, October 10, 2018. Rangers defeated Akwa United 4-2 on penalties on Wednesday in Kano. The other semi-final game will hold at the Agege Stadium in Lagos between Katsina United and winner of Sunday’s quarter-final between giants Enyimba and Kano Pillars.
Kwara United 1-3 Katsina United
Rangers 1-1 Akwa United (4-2 on penalties)
Nasarawa United 1-0 El-Kanemi Warriors
Sunday, 7th October, 2018
Enyimba vs Kano Pillars – Gombe
Semi-final (10th, October)
Rangers vs Nasarawa United – Kano
Katsina United vs Enyimba/Kano Pillars – Lagos