Nigeria NFF Confirm Abia Warriors Goalie As Winner Of Best Goalkeeper Award

Abia Warriors goalkeeper, Ali Ishaku, will be presented the Best Goalkeeper award of the 2024 President Federation Cup at the Nigeria Football Federation office in Abuja, as well as the N1m prize money after the goalkeeper was controversially denied the plaque following an error by the announcer during the final at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos on Saturday.

El-Kanemi Warriors won the final 2-0 for their third title, courtesy of a brace from midfielder Nasiru Salihu.

During the trophy and award ceremonies for the men’s final, El-Kanemi Warriors goalkeeper George Abine came up to accept the best goalie award after an NFF official, who moderated the brief ceremony, named the winner as ‘Ali Ishaku of El-Kanemi Warriors.’

There was some animosity following the presentation, but the award has since been retrieved by the NFF and will be presented to Ishaku, the deserving winner, at a later date in Abuja, our correspondent learned.

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“The chairman of my club, John Obu, called me later after the event to tell me that I should not worry, that they’ve collected the award back and that I will receive the award at the NFF office in Abuja,” Ishaku who saved a penalty during the final – his fourth save in this year’s tournament.

“He told me to send him my account number so that he will forward it to them (NFF) so I can get the money.”

A stunned El-Kanemi custodian, Abine, bemoaned the NFF’s failure to explain why he was stripped of the honour, adding that he earned it as well. He took solace in his team’s victory.

“They didn’t say anything, they just asked me to return the award and I was surprised,.

“I believe they ought to look at the criteria before handing out awards because I kept five clean sheets in six matches and only conceded one goal during the tournament.

I am just happy that we won the title and that is more important than individual glory,” Abine added.

Mohammed Sanusi, the NFF’s General Secretary, said that the situation had been rectified but was unable to explain the confusion.

“It is an issue that has been resolved and the (Abia) goalkeeper has been assured of getting his award.

I can’t really say how the mistake occurred,” Sanusi said.

Both goalkeepers confirmed that they did not have the opportunity to speak with each other following the occurrence.

No, I didn’t get the chance to speak to him (Abine) because they were celebrating and I had my family who came to watch me, so, I went to say hi to them,” Ishaku said.

Abine added, “They were already leaving by the time we finished, so, we couldn’t see each other.”

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