After the two semi-final matches were played on Wednesday evening, we now know who will fight to lift this year’s Aiteo Cup. The first semi-final was between Kano Pillars and Katsina United, while the second one was between Enugu Rangers and Nasarawa United.
In the first semi-final, Kano Pillars took on Katsina United at the Agege Stadium in Lagos. Pillars were confident as they are unbeaten against Katsina this year. And that was confidence was there to be seen as the Pillars went into a 2:0 lead. The first goal was scored by Junior Lokosa in the 13th minute through a lucky deflection off the opposing defender Timothy Danladi. Nzube Anaezemba added the second in the 62nd minute with a great kick from outside the box.
But, Katsina United players didn’t give up. It took them seven minutes to force the Pillars to concede a penalty. Danladi made up for his unlucky deflection in the first half by scoring the awarded penalty. Only ten minutes after that, in the 79th minute, another Katsina defender, Chinedu Ajanah scored to level the game with around 15 minutes to go. The score stayed the same until the final whistle, forcing the teams into a penalty shootout. Katsina had the momentum after a great comeback from 2:0 down, but Kano Pillars players were more concentrated and managed to outscore United 4:1 to take their team into the Cup final.
The venue for the second semi-final was the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano. Enugu Rangers were hoping to reach the Cup final after a ten-year wait. However, their opponents aptly named the Solid Miners though different and managed to quickly score two goals to shock the Flying Antelopes. The first one was immediately out of the gates, scored by Addulbasit Shittu in the 3rd minute of the game. The second one came in the 29th minute, courtesy of Nojeem Olukokun. But Rangers got one back before the end of the first half, through Ugonna Uzochukwu, to give themselves a chance in the second half.
The game was tight in the second half before Ugochukwu Ugwuoke equalized for the Rangers. The Antelopes then scored again only two minutes later with Uzochukwu getting his second on the night to give his team the lead. And soon after, Rangers confirmed their amazing comeback by scoring goal number four. Godwin Zaki was the scorer. The final result was 4:2 for the Rangers who are going to the big final.
The final game will take place at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on October 24th. Both teams will have plenty of time to celebrate their semi-final victories and prepare to battle for the 2018 Aiteo Cup.