It was practically impossible to say which two teams would progress from the group because all of them boast of intimidating pedigree.
However, in the end, Lobi Stars of Makurdi who have qualified for the semi-final after their quarter final victory over Elkanemi Warriors of Madiguri topped the group with six points after victories over Enyimba and Rangers. Former African Champions Enyimba too qualified along with Lobi Stars as runners up.
Speaking to Trustsports, Alhaji Babagana Kalli, the Borno State Football Association Chairman who served as coordinator of the Jalingo centre said it was the toughest out of the four centres that hosted the group matches.
He said all the four teams had equal strength and it was not easy to say which team would qualify for quarter finals from the group adding that the qualification of Lobi stars and Enyimba for semi-finals of the competition is an indication that the Jalingo centre was indeed the toughest.
Babagana, a former junior international stated that the teams gave a good account of themselves and for the days the competition lasted, football fans in that part of the country had a lot to cheer as he said the turn out remained very impressive to the end.
“It was days of real football action as the teams tussled one another for the quarter final tickets. All the teams played beautiful football and throughout the period of the championship, the fans in Jalingo were seriously entertained” he disclosed.
The Borno State FA boss who played club football for Elkanemi Warriors of Maidguri said despite the tension which the group generated, there was no problem throughout the competition as all the clubs behaved properly.
He noted that apart from the good conduct of the clubs, officiating was beyond reproach as the referees displayed a high level of professionalism.
“There was no problem of officiating because the referees gave a good account of themselves. They were fair in their decisions and so none of the clubs had cause to complain”
In addition, Babagana described the standard of this year’s competition as very high saying that all the clubs that qualified for the group stages deserved to play in the finals of the competition.
He said this year’s finals which has been slated for the Teslim Balogun Stadium Lagos would be entertaining more than last year’s finals because the clubs gunning for the coveted trophy are heavy weights and would surely justify their rating.
“This year’s finals would be full of action as the clubs which are left in the competition are hard nuts to crack. They all have intimidating profiles. I cannot say which of them will lift the trophy but I can tell you that the finals will be full of action” he said.