Three weeks of football across four five cities in the country and involving over 400 under 15 years teenagers from the 20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clubs was concluded at the Agege Stadium, Saturday morning with a dominant second half performance that saw the Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Football Club overcome hard fighting Katsina United.
The Ilorin side won 3-1 to emerge champions of the inaugural edition of the NPFL U- 15 Promises Tournament in a finals watched by Antonio Baradas, the Director of Africa operations of LaLiga, partners of the NPFL, Harry Iwuala, Head, Special Projects of the League Management Company (LMC) and Mutiu Adepoju, a former Super Eagles captain and Country Manager of LaLiga in Nigeria.
Niger Tornadoes piped 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.
The first half ended 1-1
ABS upped the game on resumption of the second half and were 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
Photo Caption: L-R, LaLiga Director, Africa, Antonio Baradas, ABS captain, Olusegun Olakunle, LMC Head of Special Projects,Harry Iwuala & LaLiga Nigeria Country Manager, Mutui Adepoju