2021 Aiteo Cup: NNL club Bayelsa United defeat Nasarawa United to lift title

Nigeria National League club Bayelsa United have won the 2021 Aiteo Cup after defeating NPFL side Nasarawa United via penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw at the end of extra-time.

After they narrowly missed qualification for next season's continental competitions in the league, Nasarawa United - who finished fourth in the Nigerian top-flight table - turned their attention to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Sunday.

The Solid Miners, however, could not overcome Bayelsa United who secured the last qualification ticket for next season’s Caf Confederation Cup with a 4-3 win in the penalty shoot-out.

It was an intriguing first 45 minutes in Benin as both teams found the back of the net twice before the break.

The Yenagoa outfit opening the scoring in through Inikurogha Okardi in the 19th minute. The lead did not last long as Nasarawa responded within seconds through Chinedu Ohanachom's equaliser.

Towards the half hour-mark, Aliyu Abdullahi linked up with Silas Nwankwo to put the Solid Miners in front with their second goal but in the 36th minute, Bayelsa United replied with their leveller.

It ended 2-2 in the first-half and both sides struggled to grab the match-winning goal after the restart and in the extra-time before the encounter headed into a shoot-out.

Bayelsa United are the second NNL club to win the Federation Cup after defunct Dolphins FC defeated El-Kanemi Warriors 2-0, back in 2001.

Their success guaranteed them prize money of 25 million Naira while Nasarawa United will get 10 million Naira for finishing as runners-up.

Prior to the showdown in Benin, the last four Aiteo Cup finals have ended in penalty shoot-outs with Kano Pillars winning the immediate past edition in 2019 after a playing a goalless draw with Niger Tornadoes.

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Sunday’s celebration was not just for the men’s team as Bayelsa Queens also claimed the women’s title and a cash prize of 10 million naira.

The Queens defeated FC Robo 4-2 at the same venue in Edo State before their men fought their way to victory after 120 minutes of football.

Bayelsa Queens’ Mary Anjor emerged the Top Scorer of the women’s competition, and also claimed the Most Valuable Player award. In the men’s competition, the Top Scorer award went to Gafaar Olafimihan of 3SC while Nasarawa United goalkeeper Mohammed Galadima claimed the Most Valuable Player award.