On a frenetic third and concluding day of the group stage of the Jagaban Cup 2022, Messiah FC punctured the aspirations of 36 Lion from qualifying for the final of the tournament and will now contest the grand finale and the race for the top prize against Smart City FC on Friday November 18th.
36 Lion and Smart City FC were in vantage position to nick the tickets to the final of the tournament earmarked to gather electoral support for the Presidential Candidate of All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu ahead of the 2023 elections, after the conclusion of Day Two matches.
But while one went according to script at the end of the group games on Thursday, things changed for the second dramatically.
Before Thursday games, Jagaban Cup 2022 finalists, Messiah FC were in fourth position and were not among the teams expected to finish in the top two but they defeated De Potters FC and MFM by identical 2-1 to move to the top with nine points from four games.
Earlier, favourites, 36 Lion were forced to a goalless by Badagry United who played the spoilers’ role to record only their second point of the tournament. The draw proved to be suitable for the second spot after the Lions earned seven points from four games.
Relegated from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) last season, MFM fell short at the last moments too to pick a top-two spot in the tournament after they were surprisingly beaten by Messiah in a game a win would have taken them to top spot in Group A. They finished third with five points.
In Group B, Smart City ended in top spot with seven points despite losing their last group game to FC Bethel 1-0. They had better goals difference than Ikorodu City and FC Bethel who also finished with seven points each.
Ikorodu City shocked football purists to finish in the top two. They were bottom of the group on Day Two but chalked up two important wins on Thursday against FC Bethel and Olukismet FC by identical 1-0 each to move to the second spot. FC Bethel finished third.
The grand finale comes up on Friday between Messiah FC and Smart City FC. Before the final, 36 Lion and Ikorodu City will trade tackles to determine the third best team.