By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The second edition of the Igbo Unity Football Cup competition kicked off at the Ranch Bees Stadium Kaduna, Sunday, even as the Kaduna state Commissioner for Youth Sports and Culture, Hon Dan Danauta, declared the competition open.
The Commissioner who performed the ceremonial kick off, said in his speech that he appreciated the medium which the Igbos use to foster unity.
“I quite appreciate the medium of choosing football to foster unity by the Igbos. There can be no better medium other than football. It is a medium that has one language, that when there is a score all the languages say it is a goal,” he said.
Earlier, the Ezeigbo Kaduna, Igwe Sylvester Aneke commended the various state teams participating in the competition and urged them to maintain discipline and high skill throughout the competition. Ezeigbo described football competition as s powerful unifying factor, saying, “Igbos will be more united than ever before.”
In his own remarks, the President General of Igbo Community Welfare Association (ICWA), Barrister Chris Nnoli thanked the Commissioner for the opportunity to use the facility while he advised the players on peaceful and trouble free competition.
In the opening match, defending champion, Enugu state team, the Coal City boys lost their first match 1-2 to Central Market team against all predictions. Both teams marched skill for skill as they attached and counter attached each other in quest for early goal which eluded them.
But the goal drought vanished when Chilonze Johnson scored the defending champion’s only goal. The Central Market boys equalised through Festus Emeka Felix, while Tochukwu Nzeze netted the winning goal.
Own goal (OG) by Chigozie Ani of Zonal Delegates Meeting (ZDM) team was what Abia Warriors needed to collect the three points at stake in the second match in Group B at the same venue. Ani was ZDM’s reliable defender but succumbed to the pressure of the opponent.
Both teams played a ding dong affair game that saw the Stadium silent like a grave yard for the better half of the first half which ended goalless.
The teams were either cautious or over respect for the opponent as they did not display the sparks as witnessed in the first match.
However, what could have been first goal for Abia through a spot kick awarded by the referee was saved by the Warriors goalkeeper.
ZDM were however unlucky when they mounted pressure but massive defence of the opponent denied them equalizer.