KADUNA – Kano Pillars striker Nyima Nwagua says winning the 2019 Aiteo Cup has left him feeling “like I have paid a huge debt that was on my head” and believes that his side’s triumph wasn’t achieved “by our powers” but was predestined by God.
Pillars secured their first-ever Aiteo Cup trophy with a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Niger Tornadoes at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on Sunday after Ayo Adetola missed for Tornadoes.
The triumph comes nine months after they’d lost the 2018 final to Enugu Rangers at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, in a scarcely believable fashion.
That loss which also came via penalties after Pillars had spectacularly squandered a three-goal lead in the second half, has weighed heavily on the Sai Masu Gida ever since and Nwagua says finally getting his hands on the trophy has lifted a heavy weight off his shoulders.
“It makes me feel excited, it feels like I have paid a huge debt that was on my head. To God be the glory,” the 26-year-old told busybuddiesng.com.
Speaking further on that 2018 final loss to Rangers, Nwagua who scored and laid on an assist in that game said while he’d looked forward to the chance of expunging the painful memories of that defeat, he never quite expected the opportunity of making up for that loss would come this soon or even while he was still at Pillars.
“It was a day in my life that I don’t think I will ever forget,” Nwagua said about the October 25, 2018, loss to Rangers.
“When it got into penalties, I still had faith we were going to do it but when it slipped away, we took it as if it wasn’t our day and we took it in good faith believing that we’d still have a time that we’ll celebrate in our lives even though with different clubs but I never knew it was going to come this fast.”
There are certain situations where it might seem that a particular team has been fated to triumph in a given competition especially when slim margins and the odds always seem to fall in their favour.
And for Nwagua, Pillars’ run in the 2019 Aiteo Cup which saw them progress twice via penalty shootouts including in a 4-2 shootout win over Calabar Rovers in the semifinal was one such campaign which solidified his belief that they were destined to be champions after the heartbreak of 2018.
“This year already when we started the Aiteo Cup with the way it was going, we practically were playing each game at a time and when it got to a point where to me, we were seeing the hand of God in all our matches.
“I actually believed that this was going to be our year, even today when it got to penalties, I was only saying God wanted to show us that it was not by our powers and at the end of the day he gave us the day.”
Every Nigerian player harbours the dream of earning a lucrative move outside the shores of the country and that desire to better his lot led Nwagua to hold trials with an unnamed Vietnamese side in January.
That move didn’t quite work out with the burly striker returning to Pillars after a two-week stint trying out in Vietnam and while he revealed to busybuddiesng.com that he still isn’t short of offers, Nwagua says he is holding out for right offer where he “won’t have to go and come back”.
“I can’t really say anything now but I know I have offers from different places but I’m actually waiting for the right one and I’m believing God that when the right one comes, I won’t have to go and come back.”