Akwa United claimed their first-ever domestic title in Nigeria following their 2-1 win over Lobi Stars in the Federation Cup final on Sunday.
Nnamso Edo and Abdulafeez Awakan put the Promise Keepers two goals ahead before substitute Nanen Barnabas Imenger scored a late goal for Lobi.
Lobi head coach, Justin Tenger, had to name a defensive starting line-up that included Iorliam Gwaza, Felix Osia, Terna Ikpeen, Anthony Agbaji and Samson Gbadebo.
Leading scorer in the Cup competition, Friday Ubong was back in the Akwa United squad alongside the impressive duo of Awakan and Aniekpeno Udoh.
Yusuf Adio nearly gave Akwa United the ?initiative as he ghosted through Lobi’s backline but ran into traffic just when he tried to hit the ball.
In the 24th minute, Aniekpeno had a sight of Lobi’s goal but dragged his shot wide.
Two minutes later, Akwa United goalkeeper Olufemi Kayode had to make himself big to stop Moses Bunde from opening score inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
But Akwa United continued to press high up against a defensive Lobi side and won a free kick just 25 yards out.
Edo stepped up and curled the ball over the Lobi wall and past goalkeeper Agbor Ekoi in the 36th minute to break the deadlock.
Lobi offered little going forward as it was apparent that they missed Tony Okpotu, Enockela Akleche and Abdulrahman Bashir who have been instrumental in ensuring that they stayed up in the Nigerian top-flight.
Tenger realising that his defensive approach has backfired, turned to Imenger, and then Mohammed Farouq Umar in place of Ikpeen.
Umar nearly proved an instant hit within two minutes of coming on, but failed to convert a scoring chance after Akwa United goalkeeper found himself in no-man’s land.
The game then took a swing of back and forth before Awakan’s half volley from the edge of the box in the 70th minute doubled Akwa United’s lead.
Indeed, Akwa United were living to their sobriquet, the Promise Keepers.
But the Uyo club had to endure a nervy end when Imenger struck in a direct free kick in the first minute of added time in the second half to reduce the deficit.
The victory means Akwa United have not only won their first major title but will play in the Caf Confederation Cup for the first time.