Bendel Insurance claimed the 2023 Federation Cup with a 1-0 win over Enugu Rangers at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, handing the Benin Arsenal a first piece of silverware in 26 years.
After coming through the preliminary rounds without conceding a goal and having finished top of Group A in the regular season, Bendel Insurance were clear favourites as they faced Rangers in the Federation Cup final for the third time in their history.
The Benin Arsenal were the superior side in the opening exchanges but were unable to fashion clear openings to test the Flying Antelopes’ rearguard.
On the stroke of half-time, Bendel Insurance struck gold when Rangers’ Chinemerem Ugwueze blocked an effort from Sodje Stephens with his arm in the box, causing the referee to point to the spot and award the player a second yellow card. Imade stepped up and repeated his trick from the semifinal by putting the ball past the goalkeeper.
Rangers fought back valiantly in the second period despite being reduced to ten men, but failed to breach the Benin Arsenal’s impregnable backline. Monday Odigie’s men held on to their lead and claimed a huge 1-0 win, ending a 26-year trophy drought.
Bendel Insurance have now won the Federation Cup for the first time in 43 years and will represent Nigeria in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup, returning to the competition for the first time since 2005. They end a fairytale season with a piece of silverware, remarkable for a newly-promoted team.