• FUTMinna Transformers, UNN Lions to play the third-place match
UNIMAID Desert Warriors of the University of Maiduguri and the AAUA Luminaries from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akugba have qualified for the finals of the 2021 Higher Institution Football League. In a pulsating match played at the Sports Complex of the Federal University of Technology Minna, the Transformers registered their first goal in the 6th minute through StanbicIBTC Man-of-the-Match Ndah Noble. Noble added the second to complete his brace in the 70th minute. However, as the Transformers pushed for the third goal needed to edge their opponent, tragedy struck in the 71st minute when the Desert Warriors scored a crucial away goal through Suleiman Saleh to put the aggregate scoreline at 2-2 meaning that the Transformers needed two more goals to qualify.
The match eventually became farfetched for the Transformers when they were caught off guard during an attack and allowed Ishola Ibrahim of the Desert Warriors to score a second goal in the 75th minute. Although Delubem Luke immediately scored the third goal for the Transformers in the 76th minute, it was too late for the Transformers as the Desert Warriors led by Coach Dauda Daniel put up a determined defensive display for the remainder of the game to deny the Transformers an opportunity to score more goals. The match ended 3-2 in favour of the FUTMinna Transformers, but the Transformers lost out on the finals as the tie ended 3-3 on goals aggregate. The Desert Warriors had won the first leg 1-0 in Maiduguri.
Speaking on the games, the Chief Strategy Officer, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Goodness Onyejiaku said “we appreciate the support of StanbicIBTC, Nivea Men, Bold and Minimie for making it possible for these youths to showcase their talents. This year’s league has been played with a great spirit of sportsmanship and we are coasting home to play the Super Four. The four teams in this year’s edition are qualifying to play in the Super Four for the first time and that makes it more interesting”.
Meanwhile, in the game played at the Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba, the home team AAUA Luminaries held their nerves to play a goalless draw with the visiting UNN Lions from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The Luminaries had played a 1-1 draw with the Lions away and thereby qualified for the finals on the away goals rule. The AAUA Luminaries made history as the first state-owned university to qualify for the HiFL finals since inception. The team ousted perennial Super Four qualifier OAU Giants and UNILAG Marines on their way to the finals.
UAM Tillers from the University of Agriculture Markurdi and UNICAL Malabites from the University of Calabar won the 2018 and 2019 editions of the league respectively.