Aiteo Cup 2018 – Enugu Rangers vs Kano Pillars
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Wednesday’s Aiteo Cup Final indeed reminds us of the glorious days of Nigerian Football. Coincidentally, it involves two of Nigeria’s most successful football clubs – Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers. Enugu Rangers came back from 3 goals down with less than 10 minutes left to play, to win Kano Pillars 4:2 on penalties. They cement their place as the comeback kings of Nigerian football. This is after they won their last three games after conceeding first.
The game started on a blistering note as the Sai Masu Gida barely waited for the FIFA badged Referee, Adebimbe Quadri aka Collina to sound his whistle. The four-time champions drew the first blood via Rabiu Ali who shook Rangers’ net with just 6 minutes into the game.
Ranger’s sluggish start continued as Kano Pillars doubled the lead through Al Hassan in tthe 22nd minute. The Flying Antelopes’ woes continued as their Northern rivals went into the break with a comfortable 2-goal margin.
The second half resumed with Pillars in firm control. Nyima Nyagua took the game beyond the reach of Rangers 3 minutes into the Second half. This looked like a thrashing was on the way until Pillars lost concentration.
Itoya Kelvin responded for Rangers in what seemed like a consolation goal 12 minutes from time.
Chidera Eze kept every fan at the Stephen Keshi Stadium at the edge of their seats with a wonderful effort in the 85th minute. With five minutes seperating the teams from the crown, Rangers went all out for the victory.
The five-time cup winners proved their pedigree by scoring a golden goal just at the stroke of stoppage time to force the game into penalties. Ajani Ibrahim pulled home the equalizer 3 minutes into the additional time. The game ended 3-3 at full time.
The frenzy had taken over the stadium as Rangers won over the heart of every neutral fan. The drama was yet to be over as Kano Pillars’ first goal scorer, Rabiu Ali missed the first penalty.
The Eastern Champions went ahead to win 4:2, denying Kano Pillars their first ever Cup trophy. Rangers have now won it 6 times.