Airtel Rising Stars final excites Lagosians
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
Residents of Lagos trooped out en masse to watch the beginning of hostilities at the national finals of the on-going Season Two of the Airtel Rising Stars U-17 tournament for boys and girls.
In the tournament opener played at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos female team edged out their Owerri counterparts 5-4 via penalty shoot-out after the match ended goal less draw during regulation time.
Benin team trounced Ibadan to qualify for the semi-final stage.
Defending champion, Port Harcourt suffered a first half scare and appeared to be out of the tournament after going down by a lone in the 10th minute of the first half. Jos had taken the lead through Waken Katon, but Port Harcourt made even the score line later. Port Harcourt eventually won the match 4-2 via penalties.
In the male category, Port Harcourt scored twice to hand down a two-goal defeat to Owerri.
Kaduna had to wait for penalties to emerge victorious over an enterprising Ibadan side. It was coasting to victory until two minutes from time when the South-West converted from the spot to stretch the match into penalty shoot-out.
The Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tourney, a unique pan African initiative of Airtel Africa, is designed to provide support for the development of football talents across her African markets. It aims at discovering talented students (male and female) of secondary school age and providing them the opportunity to gain football skills and develop into renowned stars.
In the maiden edition held in September last year at Campos Square, Lagos, Gombe zone emerged national champion after edging out their counterparts from Owerri in the final match via penalty shootout in the male category while Port Harcourt zone defeated Kaduna in the final match to win the female category.