Akwa United of Anambra state on Sunday, stopped Lobi Stars of Makurdi from winning this year’s Federation Cup in their first ever final winning 2-1 to break a 56-year jinx in their chase for the trophy as Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.
Akwa United, who appeared in their first-ever cup final, will now represent Nigeria in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup on account of this historic Cup triumph.
Surprisingly, both teams clashed on the final day of the Nigeria league season a week ago with Akwa also winning 1-0 to stay up in the Nigeria premier league.
An elated Akwa United Coach, Zakary Baraje told Supersport after the game that he was indeed very happy to have been part of history. “I am very happy winning the Federation Cup for the first time. In Fact, for the past 56 years of Cross River and Akwa Ibom, they have not broken this jinx until today. The governor ensured that he paid all outstanding debts before this match against Lobi and I think it really motivated the players. That’s not all, even the former governor also gave the players money before the final and promised to do more for the team. We’re glad we won.”
On his future with the team, Baraje said Akwa United will have to fortify the team if it needs to make an impact in the CAF Confederation Cup next year. “We managed our way through this season and are glad we also beat Lobi in our last game of the season 1-0 to survive the drop but going forward, Akwa United will need to go on a recruitment drive of quality players for next season. That’s the only reason I will stay on for the Confederation Cup,” he stated.
On his part, Lobi Stars Technical adviser, Justin Tenger who until last season coached Akwa United, said his team lost the midfield and that counted against him. “We lost the midfield early to Akwa United and the players never recovered thus making it difficult to reorganise themselves. That put the defence under pressure but what I will advice is for Lobi to start looking for quality players for next season if they want results.”
Akwa United midfielder, Abdulafeez Awakan, was voted the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 Federation Cup while his teammate, Friday Ubong, also picked the top scorer’s award. The forward scored six goals in the competition.
In the women’s Federation Cup final, Sunshine Queens of Akure defeated Bayelsa Queens 3-1 on penalties after full time scores stood at 1-1.
Last year, Sunshine Queens lost to Rivers Angels in the Cup final.