Few could have successfully predicted Saturday’s final line-up at the Yaba College of Technology Sports Complex when the 2021 Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL) season began on April 7.
More fancied sides like UAM Tillers from the University of Agriculture Markurdi and UNICAL Malabites from the University of Calabar have bowed out, while the two finalists, University of Maiduguri’s Desert Warriors FC and AAUA Luminaries from Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba, Ondo State, began the competition with distinct plans and have executed them to dazzling effect.
The two sides will lock horns for the ultimate prize of the annual collegiate football league, while FUTMinna Transformers and the UNN Lions from the University of Nigeria Nsukka battle for third place in the Super 4 grand finale.
UNIMAID Desert Warriors headed into the finals as the highest-scoring team from the round of 16 with 11 goals while AAUA Luminaries, qualified for the finals having scored only three goals from the knockout stages. The Akungba boys made history as the first state-owned university to qualify for the Super 4 and to play in the final of HiFL since inception.
The four teams in the 2021 Super 4 have scored 24 goals among them from the round of 16 with Suleiman Saleh of the UNIMAID Desert Warriors topping the scorers log with four goals.
Speaking ahead of this weekend finale, the managing director of Beiersdorf in Nigeria, Godwin Harrison, described this year’s edition of the collegiate football league as fantastic, saying the dedication and determination of the players to succeed in the round leather game align with the company goal of connecting.
“Nivea Men is happy to witness these fantastic displays from our youths riding on the platform of the Higher Institution Football League,” Harrison stated. “The dedication and determination of these players to succeed in their games align with our goal of connecting with Nigerian youths and providing them with platforms to express themselves while they also study. As we look forward to the Super Four games, we congratulate the teams that will play in the finals.”
On his part, the chief strategy officer of PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing Limited, Goodness Onyejiaku, commended the sponsors for using the HiFL brand to provide opportunities for Nigerian youths.
“Our sponsors including StanbicIBTC, Nivea Men, Bold and Minimie have demonstrated corporate responsibility by their association with the HiFL brand to connect and provide opportunities for Nigerian youths to develop their talents even while they study. It can only get better as we all look forward to an interesting final,” Onyejiaku said.