The country's oldest football competition reaches an interesting curve this week with last eight encounters across the nationEnyimba and Sharks' tango in the quarter final of the Federation Cup headlines the last eight fixtures which still has six elite division teams in the race for the title to unseat the Aba Millionaires this term.
Goal presents a preview of the interesting encounters:
CROWN vs GIWA
This is a meeting of two new premier league sides who have met at least twice in the past and have been billed to challenge for a semi final ticket at the Rojenny Sports Complex, Oba near Onitsha on
The Ajilete Boys played very well and proved they deserved to go past Nasarawa United in the Round of 16 tie played at Aba. They played a close-knit game throughout the 90 minutes of the tie and were even more efficient than the Solid Miners during the penalty shoot out.
Giwa FC have exceeded expectations since they clawed their way into the top flight at the beginning of the season. They have beaten traditional teams in the Federation Cup like Enugu Rangers, Bendel Insurance and ABS.
ENYIMBA vs SHARKS
It is the second tie of the three games involving elite division sides in the quarter final of the Federation Cup and is the main highlight of the round. Enyimba are the defending champions but have largely failed to impress in the Cup games they have played this term. They beat Sokoto North, Niger Tornadoes and
Nembe City but have been unconvincing in those ties.
They must lift their game if they are to advance beyond the quarter final. Heartland, who won the competition back to back in 2011 and 2012 stumbled out at the same stage last season.
Sharks on their part have improved with every game they have played in the competition. They were close to being eliminated in the Round of 64 before a late goal and victory on penalties saved their blushes. Thereafter they have defeated Heartland and Dynamites, whom they beat in imperious, fashion at Abuja and Akure respectively.
The Blue Angels will have their hands full against the defending champions and just like their head coach, Gbenga Ogunbote puts it, "It would be a tough encounter. Enyimba are a tough opposition and the fact that they are the defending champions even makes it a difficult one."
LOBI STARS vs DOLPHINS
The Makurdi side has always impressed in the Federation Cup and their form in the competition has always betrayed their performance in the league. They got to the semi final in 2011, played in the final in 2012 and another last four berth in 2013. They are in the last eight again this term and this is enough to pay close attention to the Evans Ogenyi-coached Lobi Stars ahead of their battle with Dolphins. They are also past winners having scooped the trophy in 2003 at the expense of Sharks.
Dolphins too are no novices to the Federation Cup with victories in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2007. This has also put them in the right stead to aim for their fifth title in the competition. Both sides would slug it out at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu with a ticket to the semi final available to the victors.
PRIME FC vs GATEWAY UNITED
The Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna would be set on fire on Wednesday when the two National League sides meet for a place in the semi final of the Federation Cup.
Prime FC with the support of club chairman, Taiwo Ogunjobi, have been striving to do the impossible and they are very close to re-enacting the 2012 feat this term again if they are able to surmount their opponents from Ogun State. The Oshogbo side has been potent from the 12 yards having won all their games in the competition till date the from penalty shootout. They will meet a stiffer opposition in Gateway United who are no strangers to the lottery called penalties.
Gateway United have fought so hard before getting to this stage. They have accounted for the elimination of big guns like Kano Pillars and Bayelsa United and they also dumped lightweights FC Abuja in the Round of 32.
They have an experienced head coach in Henry Nwosu and the tie fixed for Kaduna would be a dream contest on Wednesday.