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Federation Cup: Why we lost to El-Kanemi Warriors – Abia Warriors

Abia Warriors Coach, Bethel Orji, said his team’s 0-2 loss to El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri in Saturday’s finals of the President Federation Cup was due…

Abia Warriors Coach, Bethel Orji, said his team’s 0-2 loss to El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri in Saturday’s finals of the President Federation Cup was due to fatigue.

Orji said this in an interview on the sidelines of their defeat in the finals of the oldest Cup competition in Nigeria, played at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-time winners of the old FA Cup, Desert Warriors, defeated the Aba Landlords courtesy of a Nasiru Salihu’s brace.

Salihu scored in the 32nd minute of the first half and in the 69th minute of the action-packed finals played in front of boisterous football fans.

Orji, however, said that fatigue and loss of possession were largely responsible for their loss in the encounter.

“The final was game of the Warriors in which one must emerge as champion. We were unfortunate that things did not go our way especially in the first half.

“Our footings were wrong and so was our possession, so we paid dearly for that. We had a rather bad game not because El-Kanemi watched our clips, we did not get it right.

“It may be because the players were carried away with the atmosphere of playing in the finals, but also we did not play to our optimum,” he said.

On the preparations towards the finals, Orji also said that his players did not have enough rest before Saturday’s finals.

“In the past one month, we have been on the road playing our league matches and trying to survive relegation, and also playing the FA Cup.

“Thank God that we survived relegation to the 10th position to face the FA Cup, but towards the final we had a terrible journey around the country.

“We traveled to Gombe to honour our last league match then traveled to Abuja thinking that the finals will be played there.

“We were shocked to be told that the finals would now be played in Lagos; so, we had to travel to Lagos on Wednesday night.

“Truly fatigue had set in because for the past four weeks it has been terrible and unfortunate and today we didn’t get a goal,” he said.

Also, the coach of El-Kanemi Warriors, Ali Zubair, said that the youthfulness of his team played a determining role in winning the match.

“I demanded for a group of young talents, ready for success to make a name for themselves.

“My intentions of gathering younger players to prosecute the season turned out to be positive.

“Because the team is young, the players have more perseverance and resilience to keep pushing no matter the odds.

“Although it was not easy, I knew that because of their age advantage they will do well,” he said.

NAN reports that Abia Warriors had defeated Ilaji FC from Oyo 4-2 in the Round of 64 of the competition.

The Aba Landlords also defeated Sporting Supreme of Abuja 1-0 in the Round of 32 and Kwara United FC 4-3 on penalties after the match had ended 1-1 in regulation time.

The team also defeated Sokoto United 5-4 on penalties, after their match ended one goal apiece in regulation time en route the finals.

The semi-finals of the 2024 President Federation Cup between Kano Pillars and Abia Warriors was also decided through penalties.

Abia Warriors won 4-3 after the match ended without a goal in the regulation time.

The three-time winners, El-Kanemi Warriors, also defeated Adamimogo FC from Ondo State 2-0 in the Round of 64.

In the Round of 32, the Desert Warriors walked over Gombe United FC, who failed to honour the match, while they defeated hard fighting Shooting Stars of Ibadan 1-0 in the Round of 16.

In the quarter-finals, the Ali Zubair tutored team beat NNL side, Inter Lagos FC, 2-1 and then wrapped up their semi- finals by beating Kano Pillars 4-3 on penalties. (NAN)

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