Head of the technical crew of Nigeria Professional Football League side Plateau United, Kennedy Boboye believes the newly introduced format of Nigeria’s National Club Football competition, AITEO Cup will bring out the best in participating teams.
Plateau United who look destined to win the 2016/17 NPFL title are one of 64 teams that go into the first round of Nigeria’s reenergized Cup competition on Wednesday and they face a tricky tie against fellow Premier League side Wikki Tourists at Wikki’s home ground in Bauchi.
Formerly called the Challenge Cup and then the Federation Cup, the club competition previously had two teams slugging it out at neutral venues proximate to both sides. But the Football Federation announced a change in format before the draws were held last Friday.
Many have criticized the new format, believing it gives the onus to host teams to win due to the win-at-home mentality endemic in all of Nigerian Football league divisions. Boboye, whose side have garnered the most points away from home in the NPFL this season however believes otherwise.
“I think it will show what you have as a team – preparation,” Boboye noted.
“And if your team is capable of winning or getting results anywhere, you show it there. You can’t take it away from the Federation that they are looking for ways to improve it and we have to adapt to it. If it is not working, then they will look for ways to make it better.”
This year’s competition is starting at a time the league is reaching the home straight. Boboye’s side are six points clear at the summit of the NPFL table with four matches to spare. With an unassailable goals difference, United need just two wins out of their last four games and Boboye believes the AITEO Cup will not derail his side’s title ambitions.
“We will still go there and give our best. It is another tournament and we will also use it to prepare for our next league game come Sunday in Ilorin (against ABS).”
Plateau United’s trip to Wikki Tourists is one of the five All-Premier League fixtures in Wednesday’s Round of 64 games. United’s nearest challengers for the league title, MFM FC will travel to Nasarawa United while Lobi Stars welcome Katsina United to Makurdi. Niger Tornadoes will face El-Kanemi Warriors in Lokoja while Enyimba travel to Ilorin to face ABS.