Underdogs consume NPFL giants in Aiteo Cup

Nigeria’s rebranded Cup competition, the Aiteo Cup continues with the tradition of consuming giant sides with Wednesday’s Round 32 crash of Nigeria Professional Football League trio of 2003 champions and two-time runner up, Lobi Stars,  five-time champions of defunct Challenge Cup, Rangers and Abia Warriors, respectively.

Many will argue how as the trio could have finished business before the lottery of penalties.

But that’s why it’s the Cup competition.

A competition where anything happens!

Cup specialist and naijaleaguez.com.ng Editor-In-Chief, OJEIKERE AIKHOJE, highlights the feats of the giant killers who rubbished the top flight status of the trio.


Ngwa, is certainly one of the strange names in the Aiteo Cup this term, but victory over Lobi Stars has changed their fortunes.

Remember FC Arugo in the 1990s. 

Well, another fairy-tale from these “Lilliputians’ could just be loading in the Aiteo Cup.

Originally from Abia State, where Ngwa is an ethnic group, this debutants composed of street footballers caused the biggest upset in the land after defeating star-studded Lobi Stars.

Truth be told. Ngwa made the right move away from ‘home’ and the decision has paid off today.

With no chance of making it through in Abia where NPFL giants, Enyimba and Abia Warriors are termed “untouchables”, Ngwa intelligently crossed to Ebonyi State, where they earned a ticket to the Aiteo Cup in a less difficult terrain.

Fresh from their feat in the Round 64 as the highest scoring side following their 6-2 win over FC Galadima, these rookies put up a gallant outing against Lobi Stars.

Not perturbed by the array of big names in the Lobi Stars match day line up, these part-timers fought like Trojans and ensured Lobi couldn’t put the ball behind their goalkeeper.

Full time scores remained goalless and the match went into penalties.

Ironically, highly rated Samad Khadiri and Ebube Duru failed to convert their kicks.

Lobi Stars top scorer, Tony Okpotu expressed shock at their exit.

“Credit to their goalkeeper who saved three of my attempts on the line. I don’t understand how he was able to do it,” Okpotu with 17 NPFL goals this term told naijaleaguez.com.ng


It’s still unbelievable how a team struggling in the lower end of the second tier Nigerian National League contributed to a misery season for Rangers in all competitions.

Don’t forget how League champions crashed from Champions League to Confederations Cup in Africa.

Domestically, nothing has changed for Rangers.

Since 1985, Rangers have searched for Cup success in vain and will have to extend their wait for another year, no thanks to UNICEM Rovers.

Indeed, a record as the first time in over three decades that Rangers will fail to progress through Round 32.

Coming from their first road trip win over Remo Stars, no one saw it coming.

As expected Rangers took the lead but the NNL side leveled scores to push it to spot kicks.

Interestingly, it is the second time UNICEM will progress through penalties in the Aiteo Cup.


Founded as Ekiti United in 2013 following the disbandment of the state owned Fountain.

Perhaps, perennial relegation from the second tier NNL will be the best description for Ekiti United, which campaigns in the third tier Nationwide League One.

And there is nothing significant to record about them in the Federation Cup.

However, the club’s story has changed with victory over NPFL side, Abia Warriors.

Both sides ended their encounter 1-1 and Ekiti triumphed via penalties to reach their first Round 16.

Warriors’ captain, Austin Oboroakpor told naijaleaguez.com.ng his side was unlucky on match day.

“We missed chances,” he said to naijaleaguez.com.ng
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About Ojeikere Glover Aikhoje

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