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Bayelsa United Road To The Aiteo Cup Final

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By Hananeel Jackson

Bayelsa United’s performance this season has been described as the best outing the team have had in the last six years in major competitions.

The club which was founded in the year 2000 made history in 2009 when they won the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL title after Ocean Boys did so in 2006 . Same year, they went to the semi finals of Africa’s most prestigious club tournament, the CAF Champions league,

However in 2014, Bayelsa United became the only surviving team in the continent but were knocked out by Ivorian champions Sewe Sports from Christian Kouame’s late goal in Sapele following their banishment from the Sapele Township Stadium by the Nigeria Football Federation NFF for crowd violence on the domestic stage.

The appointment of the unassuming and workaholic chairman of Bayelsa United, Ebiki Timitimi by Governor Douye Diri is also a tonic that lifted the players and officials of Bayelsa United to give their very best having won the league little with Bayelsa Queens in 2018 as chairman.

The Prosperity Boys as they are fondly called started the 2021 Aiteo Cup campaign against fellow Nigeria National League NNL side, Nigerian Airforce NAF FC on the 28th of June with a one nil victory courtesy of Victory Beniangba’s goal.

On 7th July this year, Bayelsa United were drawn against six time Aiteo Cup champions and seven time NPFL champions Enugu Rangers in Illorin but the Yenagoa based side came out victorious from Victory Beniangba’s second half goal to progress to the third round.

The Coach Diepreye Teibowei tutored side on the 14th July 2021,got an acid test against 2018 league champions Lobi Stars of Makurdi but the 2009 league champions took Lobi Stars to the cleaners at the Dan Anyiam Studium, Owerri.First half goals from Emo James and Okardi Inikurogha defined the fixture for Bayelsa United.

In what seems to be easiest became the toughest for Bayelsa United against NNL side Gateway United of Abeokuta on 24th July at the Illorin township stadium, Kwara State as the encounter went into the luxury of penalities after a one all draw to advance to the semi Finals with Ebikabowei Consul heroic saves.

On 30th July, Bayelsa United made history to become the first Nigeria National League NNL, side in recent years to book a place in the final of Nigeria’s most prestigious Football tournament, the AITEO Cup formerly known as FA or Federation Cup.

Forward Okardi Inikurogha’s 68th minute goal gave the Yenagoa based side the lead from a sublime pass through Hassan Hassan Oladimeji in the second half after a goalless first half. Governor Douye Diri’s half time pep talk to the players when he spoke to them on phone also played a role to the Prosperity Boys progress to the final.

This is the first time in recent times two teams from same state will be playing in the final of Aiteo Cup in Nigeria after Akwa United, joining the likes of Chelsea football club of England, their female counterparts who were in the final of the champions league.

Nasarawa United and Bayelsa United will face-off in the final of this year’s AITEO Cup on Sunday 8 August, 2021 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, Edo State.

Also, Bayelsa Queens will battle FC Robo Queens in the final of the Women’s category same day in an early kick off.

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