Akwa United goalkeeper, Olorunleke Ojo, on Tuesday said that the team’s drive to win AITEO Cup on Sunday was a result of their resilience to play continental football next season.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akwa United won the maiden edition of the AITEO Cup on Sunday at the Agege Township Stadium on Sunday 3-2 against Niger Tornadoes.
The team played under the watchful eyes of their number one supporter, Gov. Emmanuel Udom, who led other members of Akwa Ibom cabinet and his Lagos State counterpart, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Other VIPs that graced the epic final were the CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad, with some CAF top hierarchy, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), President, Amaju Pinnick and the Vice-President, Seyi Akinwunmi.
Ojo was, however, hero of the match at his last gap penalty save earned his team a 3-2 win over hard fighting Niger Tornadoes.
The lanky goalkeeper adjudged the best goalkeeper of the tournament, told NAN on the sidelines of the match that the failure to clinch the last ticket in the just-concluded league propelled their victory.
“Our last experience in the Nigeria Professional League (NPFL) where we lost the chance to secure the last spot of the continental ticket is a drive. We wanted to play in the continent.
“We are a team with immense confidence and experience, so we are motivated to play in the continent with the backing of the state government.
“It is a collective effort, everybody is on the same page; we work for it, or let me say that we earn it through hard work on the part of the coach and players.
“We have the facility, our stadium is one of the best in Africa, so we are super confident of a good representation in the CAF Confederation Cup,’’ he said.
The Coach, Abdul Makaiba, said that he had a target of qualifying the team for the continental football.
“First, the mandate is to try and win the NPFL, then, that failed; we thought another mission to qualify for the continental competition through the available spot which did not also materialise.
“I almost see it as a failure, and then another opportunity came through this championship which I know will be a good opportunity to clinch the last ticket.
“We played this tournament with all passion and determination because we know what we wanted to make something out of it.
“I am grateful to the Akwa Ibom FA for believing in this project and also the state governor who is our number one supporter, it is great to have this kind of support from him,’’ he said.