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Abia Warriors goalkeeper Ali Ishaku to receive Federation cup award following controversial mix-up

Abia Warriors goalkeeper, Ali Ishaku, is set to be awarded the Best Goalkeeper accolade for the 2024 President Federation Cup at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) office in Abuja.

This comes after a mix-up during the final at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos, where the announcer mistakenly awarded the plaque to El-Kanemi Warriors goalkeeper, George Abine.

El-Kanemi Warriors clinched their third title with a 2-0 victory over Abia Warriors, thanks to a brace from midfielder Nasiru Salihu.

However, the award ceremony took a surprising turn when an NFF official incorrectly announced “Ali Ishaku of El-Kanemi Warriors” as the Best Goalkeeper, leading to Abine receiving the award.

The NFF has since recovered the award and confirmed it will be handed to Ishaku at their office in Abuja. Ishaku, who saved a penalty during the final—his fourth save in the tournament—expressed his relief to The PUNCH: “The chairman of my club, John Obu, called me later after the event to tell me that I should not worry, that they’ve collected the award back and that I will receive the award at the NFF office in Abuja.”

READ MORE: El-Kanemi coach reveals AGE edge over Abia Warriors in FA Cup final

Abine, though disappointed, accepted the NFF’s decision. He emphasised his impressive performance, having kept five clean sheets in six matches: “They didn’t say anything, they just asked me to return the award and I was surprised. I believe they ought to look at the criteria before handing out awards because I kept five clean sheets in six matches and only conceded one goal during the tournament. I am just happy that we won the title and that is more important than individual glory.”

NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi confirmed the resolution of the issue but was unable to explain the mistake: “It is an issue that has been resolved and the (Abia) goalkeeper has been assured of getting his award. I can’t really say how the mistake occurred.”

Both goalkeepers confirmed they didn’t get a chance to speak to each other after the incident. Ishaku mentioned, “No, I didn’t get the chance to speak to him (Abine) because they were celebrating and I had my family who came to watch me, so, I went to say hi to them.” Abine added, “They were already leaving by the time we finished, so, we couldn’t see each other.”

Ishaku will also receive the N1 million prize money associated with the award.

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