Displayed logo of the Nigeria Football Federation. Photo: NFF
Former three-time winners, Bendel Insurance of Benin, are safely through to the quarterfinals of the 2023 National Federation Cup, after edging out another seasoned campaigners in the cup competition Heartland FC of Owerri 1-0 in their last 16 encounter played in Awka on Wednesday evening.
Sarki Ismael scored the only goal of the match in the 47th minute, to give the Benin Arsenals who are unbeaten in all competitions this season a deserved win over Heartland, who will now turn their attention to the Nigeria National League, where they are unbeaten, so far this season.
Insurance winners in 1972, 1978 and 1980 progressed to the quarterfinals of the Federation Cup formerly known as National Challenge Cup; along with fellow NPFL Super Six rivals, Sunshine Stars of Akure; but the third team from the season ending tournament still in the Federation Cup, Lobi Stars will have to wait until Thursday morning to conclude their tie against Bendel Insurance Feeders, which was halted by a heavy downpour, after only 35 minutes at the Dan Anyiam stadium, Owerri.
Insurance Feeders had taken a shock lead in the 7th minute, through Sylvester Eweka before the Stars from Makurdi rallied to make it 2-1 with goals scored by Suur Kumaga (28 min) and Joseph Atule (32mn) before the heavens opened.
Insurance will in the last eight on Sunday, face fellow NPFL side, Sunshine Stars, after a 10-man Akure Gunners edged out Abuja-based NNL side, EFCC of Abuja 3-2, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.
In his post match chat with the media, Head Coach of Sunshine Stars, Edith Agoye commended his opponent for a good fight, and assured that lapses observed on his side would be corrected promptly, ahead of the Super Six, which kicked-off on June 3, 2023 in Lagos.
“It’s a good game, we are through to the quarterfinals, it’s good for us ahead of future challenges, against Insurance on Sunday and the Super Six, thereafter. The victory, will surely gonna boost our confidence”. Agoye said.
Meanwhile 2021 beaten finalists, Nasarawa United lost 0-1 to Kwara United of Ilorin; the same scoreline, with which Gombe United fell to NNL side, Warri Wolves.
Three other NPFL sides, however made it to the semifinals; led by former serial winners Enugu Rangers who thrashed FC Ebiede of Ekiti State 3-1; Plateau United edged Ingas FC from Oba in Anambra State 2-1; and Doma United ousted Edel FC from Enugu 2-1 in a fiercely contested match, in Abuja.
Writing by Chinedum Ohanusi; Editing by Muzha Kucha