Team Manager of Rivers Angels, Matilda Otuene Onyiloha has described the team’s AITEO Cup triumph in Jos on Wednesday as a comeback following their failure to defend their league title just days before.
Before the Women’s AITEO Cup final, the Jewel of Rivers had a terrible showing at the one-week-long Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) Super Four Championship in Benin City, Edo State – a season-ending tournament in which they were defending champions and favourites. But their failure to pick a win in three matches did cast doubt on their title credentials.
However, they bounced back nicely to clinch an unprecedented seventh Federation Cup (now AITEO Cup) title in eight years. The only time the Port Harcourt-based side failed to win it since they claimed their first title in 2010, was in 2015.
The coach Edwin Okon-led Jewel of Rivers played out a 1-1 draw against his former assistant, coach Whyte Ogbonda’s Ibom Angels in the Women’s AITEO Cup final decided at the Rwang Pam Stadium, needing the lottery of penalties to dispatch their South South neighbours 3-0 after Tochukwu Oluehi saved three penalties.
Speaking afterwards, Otuene enthused: “Words cannot express my joy. It’s not just about the win it’s about the comeback because, I don’t know why, everybody did not believe in Rivers Angels. Yes, because of our poor performance during the Super Four but this is a welcome back and I want to say a very big thank you to all those that stood by us. I’m so excited. It’s a big one for us. It is a victory we will always remember.”
When asked why Rivers Angels collapsed like a pack of badly arranged cards at the NWPL Super Four, Otuene blamed fatigue. She explained that they had just concluded a two-legged AITEO Cup semi-final encounter against Bayelsa Queens before embarking on the trip to Benin City.
Rivers Angels claimed the prize money of N10 million for winning this year’s AITEO Cup while first-time finalists Ibom Angels went home with N5 million.