BY ONOCHIE ANIBEZE
When Warri Wolves file out at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Sunday, they will be making history.
The last time a team from Delta played in the FA Cup was in 1969 when a Warri selected side lost to Ibadan 5-1. It is now renamed Federation Cup and Warri Wolves are poised to win it.
Getting to the final was well celebrated in Warri. Winning the cup on Sunday will be unbelievable to their fans and supporters. Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the sports loving governor of DeltaState will be among those cheering them on. He is, no doubt, the most prominent governor in the area of sports development. Delta produces more athletes for Nigeria than any other state.
They have the best organised state Football Association in the country. Their state league, run by the Edema Fuludu board, is the best state league in the country. Warri Wolves produced three out of the five consistent local players in the Stephen Keshi Eagles. They are the best funded club in the country.
But they are yet to translate their rich status into results. They begin that chase for titles on Sunday. They hope to surprise Enyimba, a more established side, a side with the best club record in Nigeria, having won Africa’s Champions League two times, the local league six times and the FA Cup two times in five appearances in the final. This record can intimidate most Nigerian sides. But Wolves have the character to surprise any side on their good day.
They needed some media bashing to wake up and justify the expenditure on them. At the State FA Cup final, they were lacklustre in their 1-0 victory against a lowly rated state side whose owner also plays for the team. The criticisms hurt Coach Ogbeide and he made changes in the team.
That was the turning point that has brought the team to be league title contenders and now Federation Cup contenders. And their efforts will surely be rewarded especially if they win the cup.
“We are coming to Lagos with our soccer artistry,” Amaju Pinnick, Delta FA boss said yesterday. He is confident the Warri side will shine in Lagos where gover Babatunde Raji Fashola will be a great host, as usual.