*Senate President lauds the champions, LMC
Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Football Club at the weekend defeated hard fighting Katsina United 3-1 to emerge champions of the maiden Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Under-15 Tournament at the Agege Stadium, Lagos.
Niger Tornadoes pipped Rangers International 1-0 to claim the third place. Tornadoes goal came off a Yahaya Abba Yahaya ferocious free kick on the 22nd minute leaving Okoh Chizoba in goal for Rangers completely beaten. It was the first defeat for Rangers in the tournament and it turned out the most important win for their opponents..
Oni Williams had opened scoring for ABS three minutes from the start with a well placed shot after he was set up by skipper Olakunle Olusegun. The shot left goalkeeper Aliyu Sanni with no chance.
Afeez Ajao should have doubled the lead on the 8th minute when he elected for power instead of simply placing the ball with the Goalkeeper at his mercy. Katsina United won a penalty on 25th minute when ABS defender, Suleiman Majid tripped Hussain Mohammed in the box. Hussain picked himself up to convert and restore parity.
ABS upped the game on resumption of the second half and was immediately rewarded on the very first minute when Bello Sufian scored the first of his two goals with a cool finish after good work from tournament Most Valuable Player Olusegun Olakunle. The young striker deservedly got his brace four minutes later to add gloss to the score line.
ABS should have put daylight between them and their opponents if they had converted the several chances that came their way. Jamiu Lasoju and Afeez Ajao were the biggest culprits as they wasted several scoring chances.
Trophy and medals were presented to the winners by Iwuala who was assisted by Barradas and Adepoju
Koma Million of Rangers International emerged the highest goal scorer with 11 goals. The youngster who admires Bobby Clement says he looks forward to playing in the Flying Antelopes first team in the near future.
The Golden Ball for the most valuable player of the tournament went to Olusegun Olakunle of ABS, while defender Chukwuemeka Egbu of Rangers won the Silver ball. Nasel Bussa who saved two penalties for FC Ifeanyi Ubah on their way to the finals in Lagos won the bronze ball as the third best player of the tournament.
The final game was watched by Antonio Baradas, the Director of Africa operations of LaLiga, partners of the NPFL, Head, Special Projects of the League Management Company (LMC), Harry Iwuala and a former Super Eagles captain and Country Manager of LaLiga in Nigeria, Mutiu Adepoju.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has congratulated the Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Football Club for winning the maiden U-15 NPFL cadet tournament.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, commended the sterling efforts made by the players and their technical crew throughout the period of the competition before capping it with a resounding 3-1 victory in their final match against Katsina United.
He also commended the organisers of the tournament for their objective which is to groom talents for the national team.
Olaniyonu noted that the competition which involved over 400 Under-15 teenagers from 20 NPFL clubs was a giant step in proactive youth engagement, crime reduction and the discovery of future super stars for the country.
Saraki said: “While I commend the ABS Club for their superlative performance that enabled them to win the competition, I also want to congratulate all the clubs that participated in the tournament.
“The successful hosting of the inaugural edition of the NPFL U-15 Promises Tournament, once again, points clearly to one fact: that the country is replete with talents that need to be harnessed, not only to advance our game of football but to develop the country in all ramifications”, he said.
The Senate President also reiterated his earlier call for corporate organisations to make the sponsorship of sporting activities in the country a priority as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), in view of the lean resources available to government.