IT was moment of joy and fulfillment for the Sokoto and Bauchi teams as the duo ended their campaign gloriously at the Kaduna Regional Play-offs stage of the Etisalat School Cup picking up the available last two tickets to the national finals billed to take place in Lagos later this month.
The football stars indeed gave fans that thronged Ahmadu Bello Stadium, venue of the regional play-offs, something they would not forget in a hurry.
Sokoto State team represented by Sultan Bello Secondary School, Sokoto, consolidated their spectacular outing as they walloped Kebbi State representatives, Army Day Secondary School (Boys) 6 – 0, to maintain their unbeaten record of winning all their matches throughout the play-offs stage.
For the Sokoto team, the match was another opportunity to assert their supremacy when Anas Bello opened the Kebbi net just first minute of play while Jesse Victor and Sabiru Victor, few minutes also struck twice each to silence the opponents. Nazir Nasir in the second half of the game completed the onslaught with a brace of Abubakar Mohammed’s low shot that mesmerised Raphael David in the Kebbi goal.
On the other hand, Bauchi State represented by General Hassan Usman Kastina Unity College, Bauchi, defeated Kano State representatives, Government Secondary School, Sumaila, Kano, 4 – 1 to clinch the second ticket to the Lagos finals. Though the Kano boys came to the match with lots of determination to win, it took just two strikes by Benjamin Yakubu within the first four minutes of play to stop their ambition.
Unfortunately for the Kano boys, a penalty that could have reduced the tally was missed but Mubarak Inuwa shortly redeemed the day with a goal. However, the Bauchi boys fought back with Yakubu doing a hat-trick three minutes into the resumption of the second half while Mohammed Hussaini raised the tally for Bauchi State.
In order to earn the ticket to the national finals, Bauchi gained seven points having won two of their matches including 12-0 demolition of Jigawa State and 4 -1 defeat of Kano boys as well as a goalless draw with Government Secondary School, Kaduna.
Kaduna State with their impressive team coordination and individual skills were unlucky at the end of the day after tying on seven points with Bauchi State but the latter went ahead to qualify on goal difference aggregate.
In his post-match comments, coach of the Sokoto State team, Kabir Hassan, was excited at his team sterling performance and praised his boys for being outstanding despite stiff opposition from the Kano boys in particular. He said the team would be going to Lagos with stronger determination to overrun champions from other zones while promising that they would not disappoint the government and people of Sokoto State.
“We have leant key lessons from the play-offs and we are going back home to perfect our tactics before the commencement of the finals in Lagos”, he said.
Coach Hassan commended Etisalat for the school cup competition, and said it is a veritable platform for youths to realise their dreams just as he called on coaches to show more interest in the competition as an opportunity to discover talents who could feature in national teams. “We have boys that can graduate into U-17 if only our national coaches can come around during this competition”, he declared.
The national champion of the Etisalat School Cup will receive the Champions Trophy and a cash prize of N2 million educational awards while its players will go home with N50, 000 each. The second-place team will go home with N1 million with the players pocketing extra N30,000 each while the third-place winner will receive N750,000.00 and each of the players N20,000.00.