PH, Ibadan through to ARS 3 Finals

Teams to fight for N.5 Million cash prize, Inter-Country Championship Tickets.
By Uche Peter

Lagos, Nigeria; August 24, 2013: Airtel Rising Stars National Championship defending champions in the female category, Port Harcourt is through to the finals of the season 3 of the championship and will be playing against Ibadan Oluyole Girls in the final match to be decided on Sunday at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos .

After a grueling 50 minute action-soaked encounter between defending champion, Port Harcourt and Kaduna in the first female semi-final match played on Saturday, it was the former that ran away one goal victorious courtesy of Faith Onyenuche who converted from the spot.

The match between the two teams had begun with both playing cautiously without any major threat to each other's chances of progressing to the finals, despite team Port Harcourt getting two corner kicks which they failed to make count.

Kaduna did well to contain the pressure coming from Port Harcourt, thanks to the efforts of goal keeper Augustina Unamba, right full back Linda Ayo and central defender, Queen Paul, all of whom combined very brilliantly to keep the score line at even.

There was a scary moment for team Kaduna when Faith Onyenuche struck the top bar from the edge of the 18 yard after an on-rushing goal keeper Unamba handled the ball outside her area.

Port Harcourt eventually took the lead through Faith Onyenuche who converted from the spot after Centre referee Yusuf Ganiu had awarded a penalty following a ball handling in the box by defender Sadatu Abdullahi from a cross by Captain Success Elendu of Port Harcourt.

Kaduna never really got back into the match as they remain pegged back to their own half.

In the second semi-final match between Ibadan and Abuja, the Oluyole Girls ran away with a lone goal victory. The teams, playing no less an exciting game than the first semi-final match, could not create clear scoring chances, and it appeared they were heading for the penalty shootout until a lone strike off the boot of Precious Joy who muscled her way through the FCT Queens defence before slotting home made all the needed difference.

The winner of the final match between Port Harcourt and Ibadan will automatically be the country's flag bearer at the Inter-country championship coming up later in September in Lagos.

12 male and female teams totaling 192 players drawn from six zones across the nation are featuring in the three-day Championship which began on Friday.

The teams qualified for the three-day championship after featuring in the zonal championship phase where they had to see off strong competition for the national finals tickets from other equally good teams in their zones. They include Kaduna, Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Ibadan and Lagos, all of which have been featuring both in the male and female categories.

Tournament partners, Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON) and the Nigeria Football Coaches Association (NFCA) are to lead an independent team of assessors including grassroots coaches to oversee technical concerns during the championship.

The Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tourney, in its third year running, is a pan African initiative of Airtel Africa, designed to provide support for the development of football talents across African markets.