Nigeria Super League: Classy Kada claim double
Resilient, fearless and outstanding. The long dominance of Niger Flickers came to an abrupt end as the men from Kaduna State put up a magnificent performance to overthrow them by lifting the 2018 President cup.
The now ‘former champions’, however, did not give that up easily giving Kada stars a tough duel. Both teams had dominated the men’s category from day one but Kada stars’ prolificacy in front of goal made them top favorites prior to the final. With both teams assured a place in Africa later this year, the fight was for bragging rights in Nigeria as well as the glittering trophy.
If there is any hockey final one should not miss, then it’s certainly the 2018 President cup final and the turnout was evident: the Abuja National stadium was filled with hockey lovers and enthusiasts all over Nigeria.
A 1-1 drawn game earlier in the competition when these two met in the round robin stage meant this was going to be a pulsating final.
Then the action started on the pitch. Kada stars who were yet to taste defeat in the competition started the better side. The telepathic duo of Kelvin Linus and John Peter, upfront for Kada stars was the main focus as these two with their quick, intelligent and swift interchanging play caused several problems for the Flickers’ defence.
Kada stars weary of the outcome of penalty corners awarded to Niger Flickers, played with caution especially in their ‘D’ when defending. The penalty corners did come though but the likes of Kolo and Aliyu failed to take advantage. Goalkeeping was classy as both goalkeepers stood on their grounds to keep the scores barren.
The trend, tempo and nature of the game was extended to the stands as spectators of both teams stood on their feet in awe amidst chances and opportunities being missed and wasted. Sixty minutes gone and the scoreboard had not changed. Penalty corners, counterattacks, goal bound chances and still the scoreline was goalless.
Unlike the earlier meeting, there had to be a winner in this- penalty shootout was next. Five attempts each and the scoreline had changed but still no winner. Kolo Adamu scored for Flickers and John Peter doing likewise for Kada stars to tie the scoreline 1-1. During the sudden death, Kolo missed his attempt and Kelvin who missed his first effort scored to send the entire Kada team and spectators into rapturous mood as they clinched the ultimate. Flickers dethroned, and Nigeria has a new men champions- Kada stars.
The story was however different in the women’s category per the scoreline and outcome- the game settled within 60 minutes but the winner still from Kaduna- Kada queens.
The defending champions unlike the Flickers beat their opponents in the final to make it four consecutive league titles. To overthrow a champion means playing better, utilising chances and giving your opponents less opportunities- Delta queens unable to do so and just like the round robin stage, lost to Kada queens.
Nelson Inatimi gave Kada queens a deserved leas in the first half. The champions had squandered chances earlier and the attacker made no error in getting the opener. A quick break, intelligent pass, great stick work and ball control but the final touch, the mark of a genius from Nelson and the champions were in front. The second arrived shortly courtesy a Noredia deflection eluding everyone including the goalkeeper to increase the tally.
With two goals up, the champions were still the better side and could have increased their tally. Delta has been phenomenal throughout the competition but the final was just beyond them. The game ended Kada queens 2-0 Delta queens. Both teams will be representing Nigeria in Africa but the Kada dominance continued. Female clubs in Nigeria will for another year rest in the shadows of Kada queens.
Other awards include;
- Best goalkeeper- Emmanuel Nengi
- Top scorer (6 goals) – MacLean Chinonyerem (River angels)
- Best young player – Dorcas Terfa (Benue Amazons)
- Best goalkeeper- Abdulkadri Baba (Niger Flickers)
- Top scorer (6 goals)- Mohammed Inuwa (Police Machine)
- Best young player- Dennis Solomon (Kada stars)
- Best player- Kelvin Linus (Kada stars)