The beautiful city of Asaba, Delta State, is agog for the final of the men’s and women’s 2023 Federation Cup final.
After the forced break in 2022, Nigeria’s oldest Cup competition retuned with a bang this year. The stage is now set for the grand finale where old foes Bendel Insurance and Enugu Rangers will slug it out in the men’s final.
There is also plenty to look out for at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba in the women’s final where Bayelsa Queens and Rivers Angels are set for a titanic clash.
The Federation Cup which is in its 81st year will be having both the male and female categories finals on Wednesday with the women’s and men’s final games scheduled for 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.
This is the third time Bendel Insurance and Rangers will be facing off in Nigeria’s FA Cup final and many are glad to see the old foes reigniting their rivalry once more.
With both teams failing to secure a continental ticket from the recently concluded abridged league season, Wednesday’s final becomes even more important for Insurance and Rangers
While Bendel Insurance seek to clinch their fourth FA title, Rangers are on the quest to win their seventh trophy to stay just one less to Shooting Stars who are the only active team with the highest record, eight in the competition.
Unlucky Benin Gunners
Despite going through the regular season unbeaten playing 18 games before their infamous 2-1 defeat to Rivers United at the Super Six Championship, the Benin Gunners would be seeking solace in the FA Cup final to crown their hard work and overturn the ill luck they experienced in Lagos.
If Bendel Insurance finishes the season without a continental ticket, it means the so-called invisible record with a total of 25 unbeaten games would be useless.
For the Monday Odigie-led team, beating Rangers is non-negotiable even as the manager hopes his team will not suffer from ‘bias’ officiating like they allegedly did during the Super Six in Lagos.
Maikaba and his boys might scale through again
How the Flying Antelope hopped into the finals with their floundering performance in the league is still a mystery to many but they are fired up for Bendel Insurance.
Rangers struggled to stay in the league due to their yo-yo performances in the Group B of the abridged season but they managed to get to the finals after defeating Plateau United by a lone goal in the semifinal.
The journey of Coach Abdul Makaiba and his boys to the finals is similar to Bayelsa United who, from the second division, trounced Nasarawa United, an NPFL side in the 2021 final.
But Maikaba would be desperate to get his second FA cup title after his success with Akwa United in 2017.
What happened in the past?
Rangers and Insurance last met in this similar fate over four decades ago in 1981 where Enugu Rangers denied Bendel Insurance, who had won it in previous year, a chance to reclaim the title 2-0 with goals from Okuchukwu Obiora and Ifeanyi Onyedika.
Earlier before their last stint, Bendel Insurance had defeated Rangers 3-0 at the National Stadium, Surulere in 1978 to clinch their second FA title, six years after a heroic replay against Mighty Jet in 1972.
Meanwhile, between both teams, Enugu Rangers are more successful in the FA Cup with six titles compared to Insurance who have won only thrice and the last time they did was in 1980.
Angels or Queens
For the women’s final, Bayelsa Queens, who are the defending champions, are seeking to deny Rivers Angels a chance to clinch a ninth title.
Before now, the only time both teams met was in 2016 at the Women’s final where the Port Harcourt babes defeated the Queens.
Wednesday’s tie in Asaba presents Bayelsa Queens a chance to claim a revenge or be subdued by their old-time adversary again.
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