Former champions, Enyimba of Aba battling with Sunshine Stars in a past AITEO Cup game. The first round of the competition will hold on Wednesday in various centres across the country.PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI.
Fallen champions, Heartland of Owerri and Bendel Insurance will on Wednesday try to give their fans something to cheer for when they meet in the first round of the AITEO Cup on Wednesday at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.
Heartland and Insurance were former champions of the competition and never failed to reach the latter stages of the competition in their glory days in Nigerian football. But both teams have fallen on hard times, languishing in the second tier of the country’s football. They are now battling to get back to the elite class of the game, starting with the AITEO Cup, formerly known as Challenge Cup.
In other games slated for Wednesday, ABS of Ilorin will host Enyimba of Aba, NGWA FC of Ebonyi are at home to FC Galadima of Kebbi at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, while Lobi Stars will host Katsina United at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi in an all Premier League clash.
At the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium, Katsina United Feeders will host Aklosendi FC of Nasarawa and AITEL FC of Taraba will be at home to UNICEM Rovers of Calabar at the Jalingo Township Stadium.
There are also the Mighty Jets FC of Jos versus Sunshine Stars of Akure clash at the Rwang Pam Stadium, Bayelsa United versus FC Zamfara at the Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt and the Adamawa United clash with Cynosure FC from Rivers State at Fufure Township Stadium.
Osun State’s Ede United will host Sakaba United FC from Kebbi at the Oshogbo Township Stadium, in nnewi it is FC IfeanyiUbah Feeders of Anambra versus Jigawa Golden Stars at the FC IfeanyiUbah Stadium, Nnewi-Ozubulu and Samba Kurna of Kano will trade tackles with Wikki Tourists Feeders at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
Ekiti United will host Dolphins FC of Kaduna at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado-Ekiti, Niger Tornadoes will be up against El-Kanemi Warriors in Abuja, just as Rivers United will host FC Atete of Delta State at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
According to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the rejigged AITEO Cup has a little format change as any stalemate after regulation time will be settled by penalty shoot out, just as will happen for the second matches.
Any stalemate in the Round of 16 will see the two teams go into replay at the ‘home ground’ of Team B, and penalties would then be deployed in case of deadlock over two legs. Quarterfinal and semi final matches will be played over two legs (home and away).
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