NFF Withdraws Award From El-Kanemi Goalkeeper For Abia Warriors Keeper

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Abia Warriors goalkeeper, Ali Ishaku, will be presented the Best Goalkeeper award of the 2024 President Federation Cup at the Nigeria Football Federation office in Abuja.

It was gathered that the N1m prize money will be included after the goalkeeper was controversially denied the plaque following an error by the announcer during the final at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos on Saturday.

Recall that El-Kanemi Warriors won the final 2-0 for their third title, courtesy of a brace from midfielder Nasiru Salihu.

In a bizarre twist during the trophy and award presentations of the men’s final, El-Kanemi Warriors goalkeeper, George Abine, stepped up to receive the best goalkeeper award after an NFF official, who moderated the brief ceremony, announced the winner as ‘Ali Ishaku of El-Kanemi Warriors.’

There was a bit of rancour after the presentation but the award has since been recovered by the NFF and will be handed to Ishaku, the deserved winner, at a later date in Abuja, our correspondent learnt.

“The chairman of my club, John Obu, called me later after the event to tell me that I should not worry, that they’ve collected the award back and that I will receive the award at the NFF office in Abuja,” Ishaku who saved a penalty during the final – his fourth save in this year’s tournament said.

“He told me to send him my account number so that he will forward it to them (NFF) so I can get the money.”

A stunned El-Kanemi keeper Abine lamented the lack of explanation by the NFF for the decision to strip him of the award, adding that he deserved the award as well.

He, however, took solace in his team’s triumph.

“They didn’t say anything, they just asked me to return the award and I was surprised,” Abine said.

“I believe they ought to look at the criteria before handing out awards because I kept five clean sheets in six matches and only conceded one goal during the tournament.

“I am just happy that we won the title and that is more important than individual glory,” Abine added.

General Secretary of the NFF, Mohammed Sanusi, confirmed that the issue had been resolved although he couldn’t explain the mix-up.

“It is an issue that has been resolved and the (Abia) goalkeeper has been assured of getting his award. I can’t really say how the mistake occurred,” Sanusi said.

Both goalkeepers also confirmed to The PUNCH that they didn’t get the chance to talk to each other after the incident.

“No, I didn’t get the chance to speak to him (Abine) because they were celebrating and I had my family who came to watch me, so, I went to say hi to them,” Ishaku said.

Abine added, “They were already leaving by the time we finished, so, we couldn’t see each other.”