For the first time in a very long while, Bendel Insurance FC of Benin City returned to winning ways at the weekend, emerging winners of the inaugural South-south Champion of Champions Football Tournament.
Insurance defeated Akwa Starlets of Uyo by a lone goal at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin to become champion of the eight-team tournament initiated by the Edo State Football Association and sponsored by FROT Group to help all the sides representing the zone in the national Federation Cup.
At the final game of the tourney watched by a host of football enthusiasts, including retired international footballers, saw the 1978 national Challenge Cup champions producing a moment of magic in the 72nd minute to beat the hard-fighting Starlets from Akwa Ibom State.
The Roland Ewere tutored Insurance brilliantly executed a free-kick from outside the box.
Rather than shoot directly from the distance, Meyiwa rolled the ball for on-rushing William to cross for Peter Iyamu, who finished delightfully to crown his team champions of the competition.
Earlier, the Edo All Stars defeated a team of former internationals by a lone goal to win a novelty match, which preceded the final game.
The novelty match featured such known retired players as Austin Eguavoen, Kingsley Obiekwu, Joe Okoh, Ambrose Vanzekin, Tony Emoedofu, Edema Fuludu, Emmanuel Okonebho, Karimu Shuaibu, Prince Afejuku, Wilson Oboh and Ndubuisi Okosieme, among others.
The eight teams that featured in the tourney include;, Inneh Stars, Dynamite FC, Insurance (Edo); J. Atete, Delta Force (Delta); Yenagoa Academy (Bayelsa), Akwa Starlets and Go Round FC (Rivers).
For winning the competition, Insurance went home with a N1 million prize, while Akwa Starlets received N500,000, just as all the teams got N100, 000 appearance fees.
Players and officials of both finalists got medals, while Akwa Starlets’ Wisdom Fenado won the Golden Boot donated by junior international, Isaac Success, for the best player of the competition.
Speaking after the competition, FROT Group President, Frank Momoh, commended the teams for living up to expectations, while promising to continue sponsoring the event.
In attendance at the competition were Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick, NFF Technical Committee Chairman, Chris Green, former Bendel Insurance Coach, Alabi Aissien, former national team defender, Sam Ikedia, Granada FC striker, Isaac Success and some members of the Edo State government, among others.