Two of the Nigeria Professional Football League’s finest will begin the battle for a place in the 2017 AITEO Cup final this weekend, when Sunshine Stars host 2015 Champions, Akwa United at the Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu Ode.
Fireworks are expected on Saturday in the first leg of the semi final tie with Sunshine Stars aiming for a decent first leg advantage against an Akwa United side that have shown serious hunger for a repeat of Cup success after finishing narrowly out of continental place in the league.
The Akure Landlords were made to work very hard before overcoming a quarterfinal hurdle in a spirited Osun United 3-2 over two legs while the Promise Keepers made light work of a less fancy Katsina United Feeders side, prevailing 8-2 on aggregate.
Sunshine Stars’ quarterfinal hero, Ajibola Otegbeye scored the only goal from the spot when both sides met weeks ago in the league at the same gound. The young striker and his team mate will aim for another ruthless display in their farewell game in Ijebu Ode. Stars have scored combined 11 goals in their last three matches at the Dipo Dina Stadium.
A first final appearance or perhaps title triumph under coach Duke Udi will be a worthy ending to a season of trials and challenges for Sunshine Stars, and Udi, though with much respect for United hinted his charges will hold their own once again.
_“Of course, if you want to be champions you must be ready to confront the best. We are prepared to face Akwa United. We do not fear any side, Akwa United inclusive.”_
_”They have gone past four stiff matches to get to the semis. We, too have equally gone past four previous opponents so both sides are evenly matched to go into the semifinals clash.”_
For the first time in a long time coach Udi will have a full injury-free squad to choose from.