Coach Usman Ilerika of FC Abuja on Saturday dubbed his team as “giant killers” of the ongoing 2014 FCT Federation Cup competition in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that FC Abuja qualified from the group stages, knocking out some `big teams” in the Nigeria National League (NNL) along the way.
They defeated NNL side, TEAP FC 3-1 in the round of 16 and alsoedged out another NNL team, Supreme Court FC 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 score line at the end of regulation time in the quarter-finals.
FC Abuja went ahead to knock out the defending champions, NAF FC in the semi-finals played on Saturday beating their Nigeria Nation-Wide League (NNWL) counterparts 2-1 to reach the final of this year’s edition.
Ilerika told NAN that the beauty of the cup competition was that it gives clubs like FC Abuja the opportunity to be giant-killers.
“A club like FC Abuja love challenges, we love being the underdogs and flying under the radar.
“It is a massive challenge and we are a massive club with great pedigree,” he said.
He also said that nobody gave FC Abuja a chance when the competition kicked off as there was a better representation of the NNL clubs in this year’s edition.
“Three weeks ago, everyone wrote us off. We were not able to make it the last 16, the big guns in the NNL.
“They gave us a tough and torrid contest but we have managed to dismantle all the hurdles on our path and I must tell you that we are in a much better place as a team than in our opening games.
“We are not taking anything for granted, but certainly there is large belief within the squad that we are good enough to cause yet another upset in the cup final,” he said.
The coach, however, bemoaned the unavailability of his team’s skipper, Justice Zacharia for the final after picking up a straight red card in the semi-finals for an unsporting behaviour.
“I am really sad that our captain will not be part of the final game having been a very strong defensive cover for the team throughout the competition.
“The red card he got was well deserved and we will really miss his contribution,’’ he said.
NAN also reports that by qualifying for the final on Sunday, FC Abuja have already qualified for the National Federation Cup finals alongside their opponents, FRSC FC.
Ilerika said that winning the cup final would be a significant achievement for FC Abuja and a major morale booster for the team as they continue to fight for promotion to the NNL.
“We are currently placed 6th in the 10-team NNWL)Division One `C’ table and still believe we can achieve even greater heights at the end of the season,’’ he said.
FC Abuja will lock horns with another NNL side, FRSC FC in the final on Sunday.
The competition which kicked off on April 16, is expected to end on Sunday with both the winners and runner-ups representing the FCT at the National Federation Cup finals on a date yet-to-be confirmed.