Reigning Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL) champions, UNICAL Malabites, have been knocked out of this year’s competition by UNIBEN Royals. The Malabites needed two goals to beat UNIBEN Royals in Calabar to cancel the deficit from their 4-2 loss during the first leg in Benin.
After the ceremonial kick-off by UNICAL Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Florence Banku Obi, the Malabites showed their intentions to win the game through series of attacks on the Royals. Uloko Simon eventually gave the Malabites the lead in the 45th minute, keeping the team’s hope of canceling the deficit in the second half. However, the Royals had other ideas as they stood firm and defended tenaciously to keep the Malabites strikers at bay as the match ended 1-0. The Royals qualified on a 4-3 goals aggregate with Ujah Christian of the Malabites as the StanbicIBTC Man-of-the-Match Award.
In his reaction after the games, Chief Strategy Officer at Pace Sports, Mr. Goodness Onyejiaku said, “This fine display of sportsmanship gladdens our hearts. Again, our sponsors, StanbicIBTC, Nivea Men, Minimie, and Bold have continued to demonstrate their love for youth development in Nigeria through their support for HiFL. While they pursue academic excellence, these youths have an opportunity to explore other talents thereby providing them with an array of choices as they grow into becoming the better persons they crave.”
In another game played in Minna, FUTMINNA Transformers scored three goals in the first half against LAUTECH Hunters. Abubakar Mahmud got a brace for the Transformers in the 22nd and 41st minutes while Nda Ogubile scored in the 37th minute. The Transformers, however, got a scare in the second half as the Hunters reduced the deficit in the 46th minute through Owoade Joseph and Aremo Mathew in the 81st minute, but could not get the needed equaliser to qualify on the away goals rule. The match ended 3-2 on the aggregate in favour of the Transformers.
Speaking after the game, the Head Coach of the Transformers, Ahmed Usman Bosso, acknowledged the efforts of his players and promised to work on the team’s deficiencies as exposed in the game.
“From the beginning of the game, I felt bad, at the middle I felt happy and that was when we scored the three goals before the end of the first half. However, throughout the second half, I felt bad…Unfortunately, we have many causalities now…many of the changes I made in the second half were due to these causalities. I am going to work closely with the team doctors to ensure that all the cases are well handled and treated before our quarter final games.”
In other matches, AAUA Luminaries played a 1-1 draw against the OAU Giants to qualify on the away goals rule. The first leg played at OAU ended in a goalless draw. In Maiduguri, UNIMAID Desert Warriors defeated BUK Stallions 3-2 to qualify on a 5-3 goals aggregate.