Bayelsa Queens and Bayelsa United entered the record books on Sunday as the first women’s and men’s teams from the same state to win Nigeria’s oldest and most prestigious domestic competition in the same year.
Queens saw off FC Robo 4-2 in the women’s final while second-tier Bayelsa United defeated NPFL side Nasarawa United 4-3 on penalties under pouring rain at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Edo State.
Bayelsa United were awarded twenty-five million naira (N25 million) for their triumph by sponsors AITEO Group with Bayelsa Queens getting ten million naira (N10 million) as women’s champions.
Runners up Nasarawa United got ten million naira (N10 million) while FC Robo Queens took home five million naira (N5 million).
It was the first final of the competition since 2019 after the Covid-19 outbreak caused a break in the competition in 2020.
All four finalists- Bayelsa Queens and FC Robo Queens in the women’s final and Bayelsa United and Nasarawa United – in the men’s category sought to lift the coveted trophy for the first time and the 2021 AITEO Cup final was also the first time two teams from the same state – Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens – would contest the men’s and women’s final in the same season.
Giant-killing Bayelsa United also sought to become the first side from Nigeria’s second-tier to win the AITEO Cup in two decades.
The women’s final kicked off proceedings and Bayelsa Queens proved to have too much for their Lagos-based opponents as they ran out 4-2 winners to finally lifted the trophy after six previous failed trips to the final.
Anjor Mary, Juliet Sunday, Peace Effih and Joy Bokiri scored for Bayelsa Queens while Gift Monday and Habitat Akinwande responded for FC Robo who saw Oguchi Chidinma sent off in the 77th minute.
With history beckoning, Bayelsa United rose to the occasion against yet another top-flight opposition in Nasarawa United, displaying the fearlessness that had seen them dump out NPFL sides Rangers International of Enugu, Lobi Stars of Makurdi and Rivers United of Port Harcourt in a barnstorming run to the final.
An explosive first half ended with both sides level on two goals apiece with Chinedu Ohanachom and Aliyu Abdullahi on target for Nasarawa United while Okardi Inikurogha and Emo James scored for Bayelsa United.
With nothing to separate both sides after ninety minutes, the men’s final was to penalty shootouts for the fifth straight year and Bayelsa United capped a dream campaign by triumphing 4-3 to win the trophy for the first time in club history and ensure an unprecedented double for Bayelsa State.
With the win, Bayelsa United became the first second-tier side to lift the trophy since Dolphins FC in 2001 and the NNL side will represent Nigeria in next season’s CAF Confederation Cup.