An invasion of the pitch at Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna by excited fans marked the end of what should have been a glamorous day of the 2019 Aiteo Federation Cup climax on Sunday, as the crowd went gaga after a lackluster performance by Kano Pillars and Niger Tornadoes on the pitch during the men’s final.
After the lack of fireworks in the women’s game, so much was expected of the men’s final between Niger Tornadoes and Kano Pillars – two teams that were losing finalists in the last two editions of the competition.
However, the match’s quality was compromised by inaccurate passing, wayward shooting and comical finishing, leading to a scoreless result after regulation time, but a section of the fans, said to be those of Kano Pillars, were still excited after their side won the penalty shootout and they took to the pitch in wild celebration after the final whistle.
As Pillars’ teeming fans took to the pitch, security officials had to resort to the use of teargas to disperse rampaging Kano Pillars fans after their team’s victory.
The teargas used by the security officials led to pandemonium, as many inside the stadium scampered for safety, including the dignitaries who were present.
Trouble started when Kano Pillars fans allegedly broke the barricade to enter the pitch in order to celebrate with the players.
In an attempt to stop them and prevent them from disrupting the trophy presentation ceremony, the fans clashed with the security men on duty, in a melee that even affected one of the players, who then had to be taken away in an ambulance, and several fans lost consciousness.
The medal and trophy presentation was suspended and later took place in a near-empty stadium after calm had returned to the venue.
In the stands, though, there was much colour and pomp, with Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje; Deputy Governor of Niger State, Mohammed Kezo; Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Emmanuel Akabe; Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Olusade Adesola; as well as President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick.
Also present were Managing Director of AITEO, Mr. Victor Okoronkwo; NFF Vice Presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko; AITEO’s Executive Director, Mr. Obinna Onyearu; NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi; NFF Board Members; NFF Management; Members of the Kaduna State cabinet and; AITEO Management and Staff all present.
During the game that went on laboriously before the anti-climax from the stands, Pillars’ Auwali Ali was the first to test goalkeeper Mustapha Aliko with a grounder after eight minutes, but the goalie held firm.
In the 13th minute, Tornadoes’ Reuben Ogbonnaya drove a 20 –yard free kick wide off mark, and two minutes later, Auwalu again headed tamely over the bar. On the dot of half time, substitute Yusuf Maigoro’s teasing cross found no connection.
In the second half, Pillars were marginally more ambitious, but a string of free kicks by captain Rabiu Ali failed to find target.
In the 70th minute, Maigoro, with only the keeper to beat from a counter attack, shot over the bar. In the 76th minute, substitute Gyemini Abashiya hit his shot a little wide.
Tornadoes should have taken it on the dot of time, had Eri Frimpong not been feeble with his attempt in front of goal.
In the ensuing penalty shoot-out, Rabiu Ali opened scores for Pillars but Saib Dosso responded well.
Chris Madaki and Mohammed Hussaini wasted their kicks, as did Adamu Hassan and Reuben Ogbonnaya. Yaro Bature and Victor Dennis then scored for Pillars, as did Eric Frimpong and Obinna Jacob for Tornadoes.
In sudden death, Pillars’ defender Emmanuel Anyanwu made good from the spot, but Ayo Adetola booted his kick over the bar to hand the trophy to the boys from Kano.
The result accomplished a first win of Nigeria’s Cup competition for Pillars, and the first time in 66 years that a team from Kano would emerge victorious, after Kano XI’s triumph in 1953.