Cote d’Ivoire retains title, Nigeria picks silver
Sponsors highlight gains of season-ending tourney
The Ivoirians, who beat Nigeria 6-3 in their opening game of the competition on Friday, yesterday retained their Copa Lagos title by defeating England 6-4 in a tight contest at the Eko Atlantic Beach..
Nigeria’s Super Sand Eagles ended up in second place for the second successive year after easing past Lebanon 7-4 in the final game of the beach soccer tournament.
The Sand Eagles’ best player, Abu Azeez, set the tone for his team with the first goal inside the opening minute against the Lebanese.
Ahmed Grada leveled scores for Lebanon three minutes, just as Mohamed Merhi gave hint of the unthinkable when he beat Nigeria’s goalkeeper Olalekan Oladepo from a free kick to give the Asians a 2-1 lead.
But Skipper Victor Tale restored order to the game with two goals in two minutes.
Merhi, however, leveled scores again from a free kick.
Newcomer to the team, Ifeanyi Onuigbo, scored Nigeria’s fourth goal to end the first period 4-3 in Sand Eagles favour.
In the second period, Azeez livened up the arena with two excellent goals, one through an overhead kick, to give Nigeria a 6-3 lead at the end of the second period.
Lebanon began the third period with Merhi scoring after Grada’s effort grazed the woodwork and bounced back into play.
The final period proved to be a struggle of some sorts for both teams but Azeez capped the day as he started when he scored Nigeria’s seventh goal of the game in the last minute to kill off any resistance from Lebanon.
Meanwhile, tournament sponsor, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), has restated its commitment to support initiatives geared towards youths, sports and overall national development.
Giving the assurance during the closing ceremony of this year’s COPA Lagos Beach Soccer tournament, FCMB’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, Ladi Balogun, said the tournament, organised by Kinetic Sports Limited, was part of the bank’s interventions in the area of sports.
He said it was aimed at developing the minds, body and abilities of the populace, especially youths, to contribute significantly to the growth of the country.
“The COPA Lagos Beach soccer tournament provides a platform to bring our customers, Nigerians, soccer fans, families, players and other stakeholders together in an atmosphere of relaxation, excitement and bonding which are very important to healthy living and nation building. This tournament has become one of the most exciting events not just this festive season but during the year,’’ he said.
According to Balogun, “Beach Soccer is becoming more popular in Nigeria. We believe that our sponsorship of the tournament in the last five years has helped to raise the profile of the game going by the large turnout of spectators and other dignitaries that have been watching the football matches and other lifestyle events associated with the tournament. We will continue to remain a strong supporter of initiatives that will create opportunities and equip our Nigerian youths for a bright future.’’
Apart from the excitement which FCMB built around the football matches, the bank also treated guests and customers that attended the fiesta to a VIP treatment at its hospitality lounge.
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