FC Ifeanyiubah midfielder Ikenna Hillary is delighted to have helped his team progress to the semi final of Nigeria’s Oldest Club cup competition, AITEO Cup at the expense of relegated NPFL side ABS.
Hillary was a key figure in an unfamiliar centre half position in both legs of the defending champions’ quarter-final victory over ABS. Ifeanyiubah kept clean sheets in both games, winning 3-0 and 1-0 in the first and second leg respectively.
His side’s first choice defensive pairing – Stephen Eze and Olamilekan Aniyikaye – are away in Ghana with Nigeria’s home based senior national team, the Super Eagles B while Ivorian defender Adou Blaise is unavailable. In the absence of the trio, Coach Yaw Preko called on Hillary and left back Felix Osia to partner in the defence.
“I learn a lot when I watch football from the likes of Stephen Gerrard when Liverpool won the Champions League (in 2005). It got to a stage he was playing right full back,” Hillary told www.aclsports.com
“So a defensive midfielder like me should also be able to play at centre back and right back so me playing there and playing alongside a left-wing back was not a big deal.
“We try to control ourselves, talk to ourselves and play along with our teammates.”
Saturday’s victory took the Anambra Warriors to the semi-finals of the competition where they will face fellow top flight side Niger Tornadoes in a two-legged tie. Hillary who has had a stint abroad before returning to FC Ifeanyiubah stressed his team’s motivation for this Cup competition.
“Our motivation is to make ourselves proud and write our names in the golden books of FC Ifeanyiubah and Nigeria. That we win the AITEO and FA Cup back to back and winning it for the first edition since the change of name,” he stated.
FC Ifeanyiubah finished in 9th place in the 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League but still harbour hopes of representing Nigeria on the continent through the AITEO Cup if they can win the tournament for the second year in a row.