The quartet of Enugu Rangers, Plateau United, Bendel Insurance and Warri Wolves reached the semi-finals of this year’s Federation Cup after slim victories over Doma United, Kwara United, Sunshine Stars and Lobi Stars respectively in the quarter-final matches played yesterday.
At the Area 3 football field in Abuja, 1999 champions, Plateau United edged out hard-fighting Kwara United in the north-central derby that failed to produce goals as the boys on the Plateau managed to record a narrow 1-0 victory to book their ticket to the semi-finals.
Another former champion, Bendel Insurance also confirmed that their outstanding performance in the 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) is not a fluke as they overpowered fellow NPFL side, Sunshine Stars of Akure 1-0 at the Awka Township stadium in Anambra.
Six-time winners, Enugu Rangers whose last title was won in 2018 at the expense of Kano Pillars also squeezed past debutants Doma United after a 1-0 win at the Akure Township Stadium.
The biggest upset was no doubt recorded at Ijebu-Ode where Nigeria National League (NNL) side, Warri Wolves, sent NPFL heavyweight Lobi Stars packing from the competition.
In a keenly contested match, substitute Jabbal Malik put the former NPFL team ahead in the 44th minute for the first half to end in favour of the Delta State team.
On resumption, Lobi Stars’ in-form player, Joseph Atule whose brace in the Round of 16 against Bendel Insurance Feeders handed his team the quarter-final berth struck in the 56th minute to draw the Benue State team level.
However, as the more illustrious NPFL side went in search of the much-needed match-winner, they suffered a major blow as Christian Izuchukwu scored the winning goal in the 72nd minute for the match to end 2-1 in favour of the underdogs from Warri.
Following yesterday’s results, two former champions, Plateau United and Enugu Rangers will battle each other for a place in the finals while Bendel Insurance will slug it out with Warri Wolves in the other semi-final match.
Meanwhile, both Lobi Stars and Sunshine Stars will find consolation in the NPFL Super Six slated to begin on June 3 in Lagos.
The two Stars qualified for the playoff from Group B where they finished second and third respectively behind defending champions Rivers United.