Niger Tornadoes manager, Abubakar Bala has said his side will be banking on history to out-punch top-flights, Rivers United in the 2021 Aiteo Cup quarterfinals clash.
Ikon Allah Boys are up in arms against the Pride of Rivers for a place in the last four of this year’s Aiteo Cup on Friday at the Fifa Goal Project pitch in Abuja.
Prior to the quarterfinals clash, the Minna side outwitted top-flights, Abia Warriors 3-2 in Makurdi in the round of 16 while the Port Harcourt side outscored neighbours, Heartland 3-1 in Aba to pave the way for the crunch last eight game.
Bala said the scenario looks like a replay of last two seasons which make winners of the quarters clash a potential candidate for Africa’s second tier interclub competition.
“The match to me is just like the Aiteo Cup final itself. Looking at the scenario we see same reoccurrence of last two seasons Aiteo Cup. If you look at the NPFL log you will see that Akwa United are almost crowned champions and if you look at the second position team and the third position team that are struggling to go to the continent, Nasarawa United and Kano Pillars, same teams are in the quarterfinals of this year’s Aiteo Cup.
“And the two teams are facing lesser oppositions which means they may qualify for the semifinals and if they qualified looking at the fixture of the Aiteo Cup the two teams will meet each other in the semifinals and the winners of our match against Rivers United will meet the winners of Gateway United, Bayelsa United, so if you look at the league log and the Aiteo Cup pairings you will see the two teams that will come out in the final one team is already a continental team. So any team that loses just like the last two seasons in the final again will be automatically qualified for the continent again for the CAF Confederation Cup.
“So our match against Rivers United in this quarterfinals is like a final match because any team that is able to succeed may likely go to the continent if they win their semifinals so it is a matter of winning tomorrow’s (Friday) and also winning the semifinals to reach the final, so the match is going to be a tough one.
“Rivers United is a team with quality players which I saw yesterday (Wednesday in Kaduna in NPFL match against Jigawa Golden Stars), we will give them their respect, we will also come out with our own match plan to see how we can scale through to the semifinals by winning tomorrow (Friday).
“The last two seasons before we went to the final we met same team in the semifinals in Agege, Lagos, we defeated them with two goals to one and we believe by the grace of God we will work very hard to see how we scale through to the semifinals,” said Bala.
The former top-flights, Kwara United tactician said the confidence level of the players is above 100% to outwit the Garden City side.
“The players majority of them were in the team last two season that qualified for the final and also went to the continent, they know that our target from the beginning of the season is to take the team back to the NPFL and also to have a step better than what we did in the last two seasons’ Aiteo Cup and a step better is winning the Cup, so the players are aware and they are fully prepared and they know what is at stake and I believe they are going to do their best tomorrow to see that we carry the day,” said the former Nigerian U20 team (Flying Eagles) assistant coach.
Niger Tornadoes were the 2019 losing finalists to Cup holders, Kano Pillars on penalties in Kaduna.
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