We get started this Saturday with news that we got Ibenegbu to win the wonder goal award. That should fill us with nothing but pure satisfaction - we did it. We started early, we were committed to it and by the time the other fellows got about their job, we were already out of sight. Playing catchup on an platform like that means a comeback, and with what we had put in already, an overtaking was unlikely. Well-done Guys. What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.
So the big news last night was that the
English Premier League is back the Federations Cup a.k.a AITEO Cup is finally taking off. The draws were made last night and of the 32 fixtures, the most important of them pitched us against ABS of Illorin. You should remember ABS, One of the sides we got a point off earlier in the season. So we play them in their "home" ground.
Don't be quick to think we head to Illorin. The NFF explains via their website. "From the first round stage, teams would be designated A and B. Team A will have the prerogative to choose the centre for the match against Team B, from the pool of designated centres. If the match ends in a draw, Team B will now have the prerogative to pick a venue from the designated centres as its ‘home’ for the replay".
That should mean they pick where we'd play the game and not necessarily in Illorin. I'm not so sure why this style has been endorsed because what this means is that there is the possibility of a lot more traveling and a lot more games for teams. Let's say Enyimba plays ABS on Wednesday and we play a draw, that's a replay for us and two fixtures already added before we even get to the next round.
So what this means is for a battling team who gets a Team B slot in every draw and is willing to battle out a replay for every round, they would have a lot of fixtures to add up to what they already have played this season. And if all of these fixtures are on a neutral venue, why then is this style being introduced? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The previous format had teams playing in a neutral venue and the result is decided via spot kicks. One team goes through in every fixture. My initial thoughts was that this new style would take the format as we see in the UK where teams play home games in the FA Cup at home and when they draw, they play at the opponent's own home.
Anyway, this is what we are stuck with. I do hope we are able to manage ourselves and prosecute these games rightly. Truth is, the AITEO Cup is a route back to the Continent especially if we are unable to topple Akwa United in final dash of the season. This is why these fixtures must be executed rightly and in the most professional and efficient manner possible. I believe the boys understand this.
So as we play ABS tomorrow, in readiness to play them three days later, we should plot how to ensure we beat them twice as that is the only outcomes possible. Otherwise we are staring at ending this season having no trophy, no Continental ticket. Chukwu ekwekwala.
Back tomorrow with a match preview.