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Excel boys of Port Harcourt lift 18th NNPC/Shell Cup

…Kelvin Amadi Bamaiyi, Joseph Ejeh  For Netherlands.
Sopuruchi Onwuka
In a classy display of skills and talent, the golden boys of Excel Education Centre, Port Harcourt, Thursday, clinched the 18th edition of the NNPC/Shell Cup with a 3:2 victory over their counterparts from Fosla Academy, Abuja. The prize money is a total of N8.2million – N3.5m for the 1st position; N2.3m for the 2nd position; N1.3m and N1.1 for the 3rd and the 4th positions respectively.
Kelvin Amadi of Excel school and Joseph Ejeh of Fosla were selected by the coaching crew from Feyenoord Academy, as the two best players of the 2016 tournament and would be sponsored for a training tour to The Netherlands.
In the match watched played at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere Lagos, Joseph Tari of Excel opened the goals in the 13th minute of play when he beat the Fosla defenders and the goalkeeper to lob the ball in the net. The thunderous applause from the team’s supporters was short-lived as Solomon Abraham of Fosla Academy delivered an equaliser in the 14th minute. Jacob Bamaiyi shot the Excel boys back to the lead in the 33rd minute of play.
The second half saw Tari finding the net again to give victory comfort to his team. In a brilliant show of resilience and determination, Solomon converted a penalty to score the second goal for his side.
A large crowd cheered the two teams. They included the Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor; the Group General Manager CSR of NNPC, Mr. Ahmed Laminu who represented the Group General Manager of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS); and President of the Nigeria Schools Sports Federation, Mallam Ibahim Mohammed.
Earlier, the boys from the Government Science Secondary School, Bauchi had defeated their Asegun Comprehensive High School, Ibadan team by 4:3 in a keenly contested yet very entertaining third place match.
In his comment, Mr. Okunbor commended the discipline exhibited by the students and charged them to live by that standard even away from the pitch.
“The final match is highly competitive but I cannot but commend the level of discipline and fair displayed by the boys,” he said. “They should keep that behaviour in their studies and indeed in everything they do.”
He reiterated the motivation behind the sponsorship of the annual tournament as SPDC’s belief that students could combine their education with football passion without sacrificing one for the other.
In opening remarks before the match, the Group General Manager, NAPIMS, Mr. Dafe Sejebor, noted that over 700,000 students had participated in the championship since inception in 1998. “We are proud to note that some of the footballers that started from here have gone on to play for the national teams and international clubs.
The final ceremonies also witnessed a special performance of the NNPC/Shell Cup theme music by ace songster, Sonny Nnaji.
Also present to watch the final match were the representative of the Chief of Defence Staff, Commodore Ibrahim Umar and ex-international, Segun Odegbami.
The annual tournament, Nigeria’s flagship secondary school soccer championship, is organised by the Nigeria Schools Sports Federation and sponsored by the SPDC joint venture.
Sheikh Abubakar Gumi College, Kaduna won the maiden edition of the cup in 1999 while Rochas Okoracha Foundation School, Ogbuku, Imo State won the 2015 edition.
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