Kano Pillars emerged champions of the 2019 Aiteo Cup Final after defeating northern counterparts Niger Tornadoes on penalties at the end of regulation time.
Pillars’ Auwali Ali was the first to test goalkeeper Mustapha Aliko with a grounder after eight minutes, but the goalie held firm.
In the 13th minute, Tornadoes’ Reuben Ogbonnaya drove a 20-yard free-kick wide off the mark, and two minutes later, Auwalu again headed tamely over the bar. On the dot of half time, substitute Yusuf Maigoro’s teasing cross found no connection.
In the second half, Pillars were marginally more ambitious, but a string of free-kicks by captain Rabiu Ali failed to find the intended target.
In the 70th minute, Maigoro, with only the keeper to beat from a counter-attack, shot over the bar. In the 76th minute, substitute Gyemini Abashiya hit his shot a little wide, but Tornadoes should have taken it on the dot of time, had Eri Frimpong not been feeble with his attempt in front of goal.
In the ensuing penalty shoot-out, Rabiu Ali opened scores for Pillars but Saib Dosso responded well. Chris Madaki and Mohammed Hussaini wasted their kicks, as did Adamu Hassan and Reuben Ogbonnaya. Yaro Bature and Victor Dennis then scored for Pillars, as did Eric Frimpong and Obinna Jacob for Tornadoes.
In sudden death, Pillars’ defender Emmanuel Anyanwu made good from the spot, but Ayo Adetola booted his kick over the bar to hand the trophy to the boys from Kano.
The result accomplished a first win of Nigeria’s National Cup competition for Pillars, and the first time in 66 years that a team from Kano would emerge victorious, after Kano XI’s triumph in 1953.
Despite the loss, the Ikon Allah boys will represent Nigeria on the continent at the CAF Confederations Cup alongside Kano Pillars.