2018 AITEO Cup: Rangers to battle Kano Pillars in final
All is now set for what can be described as an epic final of the 2018 AITEO Cup glory, as five times FA cup champions, Rangers International FC of Enugu sets for a showpiece with 1991 runners up Kano Pillars FC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that both clubs emerged finalist of the oldest cup competition from both centers, Lagos and Kano in the keenly contested encounter.
At the Soccer Temple, Agege Stadium, Lagos, four times league winners – 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – Kano Pillars squared up with Katsina United in a Northwestern derby.
The keenly contested encounter was decided through penalty that ended 4-1 in favour of the Masu Gida side, after regulation time scores had ended 2-2.
Katsina United had had a fine run in this year’s Aiteo Cup until they fell to Pillars who squandered a two goal lead for the match to end 2-2 in regulation time, but overcame Katsina side with an emphatic 4-1 win via penalties.
Pillars will face Rangers, who came from two goals down to defeat Nasarawa United 4-2 in the other semifinal at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano.
The grudge match at the Agege Stadium did live up to its hype as both teams gave a good account of what a semi final should look like.
It was the Masu Gida side that pull the first blood all thanks to a Junior Lokosa deflected shot in the 13th minute.
In what looked like a nail in the coffin for the Chanji Boys from Katsina, Kano Pillars got the second goal of the thrilling encouter when former Rivers United midfielder Nzube Anaezemba powered home a bullet shot from about 30 yards out.
The unrelenting Coach Abdullahi Biffo-tutored side however got back into the game in the 72nd minutes from a goal by Timothy Danladi via an almost missed penalty kick, a follow-up rebound after goalkeeper Obiozo had saved his first kick.
The Agege Stadium was thrown into frenzy and wild jubilation when Katsina United quickly followed up with another goal in the 79th minute through Chinedu Ajanah who restored parity with a powerful header.
During the penalty shootout, Katsina United’s Destiny Ashadi and Timothy Danladi missed the first and third spot kicks respectively while Obinna scored the second one.
Kano Pillars however converted all their four kicks to advance to the final to set a date with the Flying Antelopes from Enugu at the newly constructed Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba, Delta State.
At the Sanni Abacha Stadium, five times FA Cup kings – 1974, 1975, 1976 1981 and 1983 – Rangers, ended the fairy runs of Nasarawa United beating them 4-2 in another thrilling encounter.
All is now set for an epic final between two of the most successful clubs in Nigeria.
While Rangers International are regulars in the past with five trophies to their credit, they need to overcome a 32 years wait for another FA Cup glory.
The Flying Antelopes are also seven time finalists: 1971, 1978, 1987, 1990, 2000, 2004 and 2007.
The team according to the coach Gbenga Ogunbote would do everything within its power to win the 2018 edition.