Akwa United’s hope of winning the maiden edition of the Naija Super 8 tournament ended on Friday evening following a 1-2 semi-final defeat to fellow wild card team, Sporting Lagos at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos State.
Cyril Olisema’s 42nd minute goal from the spot was cancelled out by Saturday Okon’s 55th minute strike – before Jonathan Alukwu secured victory for the newly promoted NPFL team in the 70th minute – as they advanced to the final of the tournament, where they will battle Remo Stars on Sunday.
Akwa United and Sporting Lagos were selected as wild card teams by the organizers of the tournament, and both teams qualified from their respective groups to face each other in the semi-final.
The semi-final clash lived up to expectations as both sides entertained the fans with some free-flowing football.
Akwa United, who were clearly the better side, especially in the first-half, created lots of scoring chances but couldn’t make the most of them as Uche Collins, Cyril Olisema, Sadiq Rilwan and Osoba Kabir all failed to hit the target early on.
The breakthrough came for Fatai Osho’s team in the 42nd minute when Sadiq Rilwan was brought down in the box. Cyril Olisema converted expertly as the Promise Keepers went into the half time break with the lead.
Sporting Lagos improved their performance in the second half and scored two goals within sixteen minutes to book their place in the finals.
The 2021 Nigerian Champions defeated Yobe Stars 2-1, and Rivers United 1-0 before losing 2-0 in their last group B match to Lobi Stars. Their defeat to Sporting Lagos was their second at the tournament.
The team will return to Uyo to continue preparations for the 2023-24 football league season.