Port Harcourt Suffer Setback In ARS Tourney

Defending champion in the male category of the Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tournament, Port Harcourt suffered a major setback in its quest to retain the title it won last year after being defeated 3-1 by Ilorin in the second round robin match decided Thursday, 31 July, 2014 at the Yabatech Sports Complex.
The result leaves the defending champion on the verge of elimination from the tournament except it wins its two remaining matches provided either Ilorin or Abuja drops a point. It also stands in sharp contrast to its female counterparts who are on a cruise after two wins from two matches
All had looked promising for the Garden City team when Ugochukwu Eze shot them into the lead15 minutes into the first half. This lead lasted only three minutes as Taiye Ayinde drew level for the Ilorin side. Mohammed Baba put Ilorin ahead a minute later before Ayosunkanmi Oshoayo took the game beyond any hope of recovery after he netted in the third for his side in the 52 minutes.
Enugu male team faces a similar fate as the Port Harcourt team after losing a match and drawing another one, though it has a match in hand.
In the other matches played, Abuja defeated Enugu 2-1 to brighten its chances of playing in the final on Saturday though it failed to consolidate on this in its second match against Lagos as both settled for a barren draw after a drab 90 minutes. Aliyu Adam scored both goals for Abuja.
In the female category, Ilorin and Enugu played out a two all draw with goals coming from Owoeye Temitope and Akinloye Suliyat for Ilorin and Edeh Loveth and Anjor Mary for Enugu. Lagos ran away 3-1 victorious over Abuja while Port Harcourt pipped Enugu 1-0. Lagos defeated Ilorin 2-1in the last match of the day in the female category.
Meanwhile, the Lagos female team appeared to have played their way into the final after the team won its first three matches with just one match remaining. The team defeated Enugu 2-1 in its opening match, thrashed Abuja 3-1 in the second match before seeing off Ilorin 2-1 in a match it dominated for the larger path.
The final round of qualifying matches continues tomorrow in both categories at the NIS Sports Complex, National Stadium, Surulere. Port Harcourt will meet Lagos and also Abuja in its last two matches while Enugu will square up against Lagos all in the male category.
In the female category, Enugu will come up against Abuja, Ilorin against Port Harcourt and Abuja against Ilorin while Lagos will take on Port Harcourt.
The two teams with the highest number of points in both categories at the end of the round robin matches will automatically qualify for the final to be played on Saturday at the Yabatech Sports Complex.
The ARS U-17 tournament, a pan-African initiative of Airtel Africa, is designed to provide support for the development of football talents across Nigeria. It aims at discovering talented male and female footballers under the age of 17 and providing them with platform to gain football skills and develop into professional footballers.
The tournament enjoys the support of football bodies such as Lagos State Football Association (LSFA), Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON), Arsenal Football Club and Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF).

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