The cities of Ijebu-Ode and Lagos will be agog today as three Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) heavyweights, Enugu Rangers, Plateau United, Bendel Insurance and Nigeria National League (NPFL) side, Warri Wolves match up today in the semi-finals of this year’s Federation Cup.
There is so much to play for as the quartet is just one match away from reaching the finals of the oldest and most prestigious club competition in the country.
At the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos, Bendel Insurance FC of Benin and Warri Wolves will lock horns, and whichever side is able to climb higher on the land will be eligible to play for the prestigious trophy next month.
To set up the semi-final clash with the more illustrious Bendel Insurance, Warri Wolves stunned NPFL giants, Lobi Stars 2-1 in Ijebu-Ode while their opponents defeated fellow NPFL side, Sunshine Stars of Akure 1-0 at the Awka Township Stadium to reach the last four.
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Although the odds are heavily in favour of Insurance who ended the 2023 NPFL abridged season without a defeat, their opponents who have won so many battles on their way can’t be dismissed with a wave of the hand.
In the other semi-final match, Rangers International, who won the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1977 after a string of FA Cup (former name of Federation Cup) triumphs, will square up to ambitious Plateau United FC at the Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium in Ijebu-Ode.
To reach the last four, Rangers International pipped giant-killers Doma United 1-0 at the Akure Township Stadium in their own quarter-final, while Plateau United turned back hopeful Kwara United by the same margin in Abuja.
One interesting thing about the match many have already tagged ‘final before finals’ is that both contestants are former winners of the coveted trophy.
While Plateau United won their first and only title in 1999, the last time Rangers won the trophy was in 2018 in Asaba where they fought back to stun Kano Pillars on penalties after a 3-3 draw in regulation time.