Lobi Stars of Makurdi and Remo Stars FC of Ikenne are the first clubs to qualify for the finals of Naija Super 8 competition scheduled to be held at Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos from 7-16 July.
Lobi picked the ticket to represent the North-Central zone by defeating City FC of Abuja 4-3 on penalties after a thrilling match.
The Nigeria Professional Football League side and the Nigeria National League played in the opening fixture of the tournament play-offs at the Eket Township Stadium on Friday.
City FC started the match on the front foot and had a clear chance to take the lead in the seventh minute, but failed to make it count.
Lobi Stars grew into the game, and took the lead in the 30th minute through a goal by David Okoroni after a miscommunication between a City FC defender and his goalkeeper.
Despite going behind, City FC continued to impress with their play and fashioned another good opportunity late in the half, but could not convert.
The Abuja boys started the second half the way they ended the first and scored a well-deserved equaliser in the 53rd minute through Ibrahim Mahfus.
The match continued at a frenetic pace, as both teams pushed for the winner. City FC manufactured another brilliant opportunity to take the lead in the 76th minute through Arinze Ogbonna. Eleven minutes later, Lobi Stars drew level through Joseph Atule to send the match to penalties.
City FC Coach, Ibe Johnson, said his boys lost to Lobi Stars’ experience. “I appreciate the boys for the effort. We are happy to be here. Big kudos to the organisers for this tournament, and congratulations to Lobi Stars. I give it to Lobi Stars for their experience. We lost to their experience today,” he said.
Remo Stars snatched the South-West zonal ticket after beating Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan (3SC), 3-0 in an entertaining derby.
The Ikenne boys, driven by the craft of midfielder Qudus Akanni, raced into a two-goal lead within 12 minutes. Andy Okpe gave Remo Stars the lead with a tidy finish in the seventh minute, while Nweze Borniface doubled the lead five minutes later with a free header from a corner kick.
3SC rallied to reduce the deficit, but could not convert their chances, as Remo Stars took their two-goal lead into the break.
The second half was a shadow of the first, as both sides struggled to create chances. Samuel Anakwe finally put the game beyond 3SC with the third goal in the 74th minute, tapping home a low cross from close range.
With the victory, Remo Stars maintained their unbeaten run against the Ibadan-based side.
Naija Super 8 is organised by Flykite Productions in partnership with MultiChoice Nigeria and sponsors, MTN, Hero Lager, DStv, GOtv, SuperSport, Moniepoint, Pepsi and Custodian Assurance.