Enugu Rangers Wednesday staged a thrilling comeback from 0–3 to beat Kano Pillars on penalties and win their first Nigerian Cup since 1983. Rangers thus emerged champions of the 2018 Aiteo Cup and will represent Nigeria in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup after claiming their sixth Nigerian Cup title in total and pocketing a cash prize of N25 million ($69,000).
Kano Pillars looked to be cruising to their first-ever Cup triumph when they led 3-0 with just 13 minutes to play at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State.
But Kevin Itoya’s screamer from the edge of the box beat goalkeeper David Obiozo to give Rangers a glimmer of hope. The Flying Antelopes made the game even more interesting in the 82nd minute as Chidera Ezeh made it 3-2, and substitute Ajani Ibrahim’s brave diving header restored parity in injury-time. Former Pillars defender Isaac Loute completed the Rangers revival, scoring the decisive penalty to win the shoot-out 4-2.
Kano Pillars had taken the lead after less than five minutes through skipper Rabiu Ali, before Nigeria Under-20 midfielder Alhassan Ibrahim scored directly from a corner and Nwagua Nyima netted shortly after half-time.