The 2019 edition of the Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL), ended in grand style with University of Calabar, Malabites defeating defending champions UAM Tillers (5-4) on penalties on Saturday, to emerge champions of the league’s second edition. It was sweet revenge for the Malabites, after a re-enactment of the 2018 finals, which
they lost to UAM Tillers.
UAM Tillers started the game on the front foot and showed flashes of why they deserve a place in the finals. In the 16th minute, the efforts of the lads from Makurdi, paid off, as captain, Assen Shater, with jersey no 10, closed out a brilliant pass with a superb finish.
The defending champions dominated play for most of the first half despite playing with 10 men after Dolumon Anikyongu got sent off following a second yellow card .
UNICAL Malabites however, came into the game in the second half and got a goal in the 62 nd minute from substitute Ngaji Mojafu. Despite the equalizer, UAM Tillers created the most chances in the second half, but had to settle for a draw at the end of full time. The game ended 5:4 on penalties in favour of UNICAL Malabites at the end of regulation time.
Speaking during an international press conference organized before the match, Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Sola Fijabi, said that he is impressed with the huge support that the league has garnered and sustained since its launch especially during the second season
“It is heart-warming to deliver a bigger, bolder and even better second season as promised. We are especially happy that the league did not only create an engagement platform for brands and several stakeholders, but it also unified students across Nigeria in the delightful spirit of sportsmanship, our expansion of teams to 32 and our very impactful coaching clinic are some of the many strides that we achieved in the season.
“We are extremely prepared for the 2020 edition and we are hopeful that like this second season, subsequent editions of the league will continue to have positive impact on sports and education in Nigeria” Fijabi concluded”.
Speaking after the final match, President, Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) Prof Stephen Hamafyelto expressed satisfaction about the organization and execution of the second edition .
“This edition has really proven that we are here for the long term. We have once again delivered on the promises we made regarding standards, discipline even fair-play, especially as it concerns delivering a bigger and better league season”
We are glad that the league has not only given a voice and a face to football talents across the country and in various institutions, but is also providing hope and a veritable platform of success for the numerous talents that are being discovered” He added. 32 teams participated in the 2019 HiFL season. UNILORIN Warriors emerged as winners of the Third Place Playoff after defeating OAU Giants in a thrilling encounter, which ended 4:3 on penalties.
The Higher Institutions Football League is organised by PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing in partnership with the Nigerian Universities Games Association (NUGA). The league is sponsored by Stanbic IBTC, Indomie Nigeria and premier cool .