Aiteo Cup: Defending champions, Akwa Utd crash out

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Akwa United’s dream of retaining the Aiteo Cup were ended on Wednesday when they were defeated 4-2 on penalties by Enugu Rangers following a 1-1 draw.

The defending champions’ dominance paid off just before the half-time interval, with Michael Ibe striking a superb free-kick into the top corner of the net in the 41st-minute for his fifth goal of the competition after Okey Odita had been penalised for handball.

Victor Mbaoma almost doubled the lead in the 57th minute, robbing Odita of the ball, but his weak attempt was easily gathered by Femi Thomas.

That miss would come back to hunt the Promise Keepers, who were pegged back by a firm header from Odita as he made amends for his earlier misdemeanours.

The veteran captain converted Felix Ogbuke’s free-kick to draw Rangers level in the 70th minute.

Five-time champions Rangers ultimately held their nerve in the ensuing penalty shootout to earn a semi-final spot and remain on course to win their first cup trophy since 1983.

In the second quarter final played at the Agege Stadium in Lagos, Katsina United beat Kwara United 3-1 to earn a first-ever last four spot.

Destiny Ashadi’s 21st-minute strike following Martins Usule’s assist opened the floodgates for goals, handing Katsina an early lead.

Tasiu Lawal doubled the lead in first-half injury time with a close-range volley, as Katsina threatened to run riot against Kwara United.

However, Kwara were handed a lifeline a minute later, as Chinedu Ajanah conceded a cheap foul in his area.

Segun Alebiosu converted from the spot, his fifth goal in four matches, as the Harmony Boys halved the deficit before the break.

Usule capped off an outstanding performance for Katsina with the third of the day from close range at the death to seal a historic semi-final ticket.

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