By Amaechi Agbo
President of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick has assured that the country’s football-governing body is fully committed to bringing innovations and improved packages to the organization of the Aiteo Cup competition, following Sunday’s final at the Agege Stadium, Lagos.
The football may not have enraptured, but the organization and the general razzmatazz did, leading to CAF President Ahmad describing the experience as ‘exciting.’
Pinnick told reporters on Tuesday that “What we did on Sunday is the beginning of the new level to which we want to take this important competition. When we announced Agege Stadium, several people went public with condemnation of the idea. But we knew what we wanted to achieve and we went for it.
“People berated Agege and the environment and said it would not work. But we set out on an objective and we achieved our goal. We looked at the noted deficiencies and we worked on them.
“The message is that there is nothing that cannot be fixed if there is genuine intention and focus, and with dedication and hard work.”
For the first time in history, the leadership of African football was present right there at the finale of Nigeria’s oldest and most glamorous competition, and in their numbers too. CAF President Ahmad, CAF Vice Presidents Kwesi Nyantakyi and Omari Selemani, CAF Emergency Committee member Souleiman Waberi were enthralled, alongside Governors Ambode (Lagos), Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Bello (Niger), as well as Pinnick himself, NFF Vice Presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, a representative of the Youth and Sports Minister (Nansel Nimyel), the top echelon of sponsors AITEO group, NFF Executive Committee members, members of NFF Management and members of the Lagos State Executive Council.
“I give kudos to the Organizing Committee headed by the NFF 1st Vice President (Barr. Akinwunmi), with the General Secretary (Dr. Sanusi) as secretary. They did a great job all through the competition and at the finale on Sunday. Come next year, we will bring a few more innovations and even improved packages to make the competition more glorious than ever,” Pinnick added.
Fireshoots from the ground heralded the players of Niger Tornadoes and Akwa United onto the pitch of Agege Stadium for the final, and elaborate fireworks brought a captivating night to a close on mainland Lagos.
Despite the compact nature of the arena, a large VIP tent, conveniences for men and women and adequate security put dignitaries and spectators alike at ease, and though both teams failed to put enough spark into things under floodlight, no one missed the comic relief of a yo-yo penalty shoot –out.
Champions Akwa United pocketed the sum of N25 million, with runners –up Niger Tornadoes going home with N10 million. AITEO also procured a brand new trophy for the champion team.