By Adekunle Aliyu
Lagos -The captain of the Jos male team who won the just concluded national finals of the Airtel Rising Stars U-17 tournament for boys and girls, Aminu Nuhu has attributed the victory of the team to the people of Jos, Plateau State.
The Jos team defeated Port Harcourt 7-6 in the final match (male category) in a penalty shoot-out after the game ended in a barren draw during regulation time.
It had looked set to suffer a defeat after temporarily taking the back seat having lost its second kick, but Port Harcourt threw away the decisive fifth and seventh spot kicks. Aminu feels the victory is special for some reasons.
His words, “I represented my State at the ARS; and I with my team mates, we made our States proud. Our winning the ARS is a victory for the Plateau people. Also, I feel great because last year, we were unhappy after losing our first match to Owerri.
Again, seven of our players out of 18 were screened out at the national finals leaving us with just 11players, and we still went on to win it.”
The youngster also revealed that the ghost of the 16-17 loss to the Owerri male team in the quarter-finals of the maiden edition of the ARS held at the Campos Square, Lagos in 2011 haunted the entire team, but for the intervention of Coach Salisu Nakande who gave them a fatherly talk.
“Before the penalty, like five minutes to the end of the match, we were thinking we would score, but that did not happen. So, we were a bit afraid considering that we lost to Owerri 16-17 in the quarter-finals last year. Our coach then called us together and advised us to be composed. He told us that there was nothing special about taking penalties. He said we could either win or lose, but that we should be confident,” he said.
Jos male team as well as Port Harcourt female team will fly Nigeria’s flag at the inter-country tournament of the Airtel Rising Stars to be held in Kenya later in August.
It would be recalled that a new African record for longest penalty shootout in football history in a competitive match was set at the maiden edition of the Airtel Rising Stars after Jos and Owerri male teams took their quarter final match in to penalties.
In that winner-takes-it-all match, Owerri defeated Jos 17 goals to 16. Prior to this development, the Ivory Coast (now Cote D’Ivoire) held the continental record for 19 years after defeating Ghana 11-10 in the Senegal’92 Semi-final match of the African Cup of Nations.
The current world record for longest penalty shootout in soccer history was set during an Argentine Championship match between Argentinos Juniors and Racing Club on November 20, 1988. After extra-time score line stood at 2-2, a total of 44 spot kicks were taken with Argentinos winning by 20 -19.
In European football history, the longest penalty shoot-out was set by Genclerbirligi which defeated Galatasaray 17-16 in the November 28, 1996 Turkish FA Cup final after the match had ended 1-1 after extra time.
The Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tourney, a unique pan African initiative of Airtel Africa, is designed to provide support for the development of football talents across her African markets. It aims at discovering talented students (male and female) of secondary school age and providing them the opportunity to gain football skills and develop into renowned stars.