Bariga FC secured a decisive 2-0 win over Ighalo FC in the final clash held at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos, marking the culmination of the inaugural 1XBET Community Football Cup.
Bagging the championship title, Bariga FC clinched a prize of N1 million, while the valiant runner-up, Ighalo FC, took home N500,000. The Young Strikers of Lagos Island claimed the third spot and a cash prize of N300,000 after triumphing over De Elite FC in a gripping 1-0 showdown for third place.
The thrilling final witnessed Bariga FC applying intense pressure on Odion Ighalo Academy, ultimately reaping the rewards with Babatunde Oladejo, wearing the No. 11 jersey, smashing in the first goal during the initial half. The team’s triumph was sealed by Benjamin Friday, affectionately known as Raul among his peers, who netted the decisive second goal 20 minutes into the second half.
Reflecting on his winning strike, the elated Friday attributed the success to teamwork, emphasising, “I feel so happy that we won; I got a good pass and I was able to put the ball in the net; that’s teamwork. I intend to go pro; this is just the beginning for my teammates and me. The goal is to one day play internationally and represent my country.”
In the aftermath of the clash, Emmanuel Inah, the captain of Odion Ighalo Academy, gracefully accepted defeat, remarking, “Training for this tournament hasn’t been easy. I’m proud of my teammates.” Despite the loss, Inah highlighted the support received from their mentor and expressed hope in his pride for their effort.
Among the accolades awarded, De Elite FC earned the distinction of Team of the Tournament, claiming a prize of N200,000. Meanwhile, individual players shone brightly, with Justice Ohanusi, a Defender of Odion Ighalo Academy, named the Most Valuable Player, pocketing N150,000, and Wasiu Salami, honoured as the Best Goalkeeper, walking away with the same cash prize.
Amidst the jubilation, Ambrose Duru, the Head Coach of Odion Ighalo Academy, commended his team’s performance, acknowledging their growth and the need for continued exposure for future tournaments.
Wahidi Akanni, Match International’s Chairman, expressed delight at the discovery of promising talents, envisioning a global impact for these budding stars. “I see future stars that will not only conquer Africa but the world at large,” he exclaimed, applauding the support from 1XBET and affirming their commitment to nurturing grassroots football.
The tournament, which commenced on Oct. 3 across five conferences – Lagos Mainland, Badagry, Ikorodu, Epe, and Lagos Island—saw a total of 40 participating teams, underscoring the community’s vibrant enthusiasm for football.