Federation Cup holders, Bayelsa United, suffered a shocking elimination from this year’s competition yesterday as they were stunned 5-3 on penalties after playing 1-1 with little known Essien Ayi FC of Cross River to become the first NPFL side to be sent packing in the Round of 64.
It will be recalled that the then Nigeria National League (NNL) side, Bayelsa United, won the finals of the 2021 Federation Cup when they defeated Nasarawa United 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
Since the 2022 edition was inconclusive, Bayelsa United went into this year’s competition as the defending champions only to be eliminated so early by an amateur team.
However, fellow NPFL side, Lobi Stars refused to suffer the same fate as they fought back to defeat FC One Rocket of Akwa Ibom 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in normal time.
In the match played at the Awka Township Stadium, Lobi Stars drew the first blood when Wasiu Alalade scored the opening goal in the 9th minute.
But on resumption, FC One Rocket piled pressure on Lobi Stars and got their equaliser in the 56th minute through Wonderson Yakubu before Clinton Japheth gave them the lead in the 76th minute.
However, with the introduction of Elijah Ani and Umar Abba in attack, Lobi Stars fought back and were lucky to escape as one of their leading goalscorers, Jospeh Atule, found the equaliser five minutes from time to take the keenly contested match to shootout.
In the penalty shootout that ensued, the more experienced Lobi Stars kept their nerves to win 5-3 to progress to the Round of 32.
Other NPFL teams also recorded victories as Insurance of Benin defeated ABS 1-0 in Lagos, Gombe United piped Malumfashi FC Katsina 1-0 in Jos, struggling Nasarawa United edged Kebbi United 2-0 in Minna, 3SC survived 4-3 against unknown Adamimogo of Ondo State while Sunshine Stars subdued Basira FC of Nasarawa State 2-0 in Lokoja.
Meanwhile, some of the clubs were walked over as they failed to honour their matches. In Abuja, Osun United walked over Katsina United, Kano Pillars walked over Ilaji FC in Minna, Mighty Jets also walked over Niger Tornadoes Feeders in Kaduna just as FC Ebedei walked over Hope of Glory in Awka.
The Round of 64 matches will continue today at match venues across the country.