De-Royals FC have been crowned Nigeria Premier National Football Fives champions following a penalty victory over Ago FC on Saturday at the Campos Mini Stadium, Lagos Island, Lagos.
It was a second successive title triumph for the club after seeing-off Ogun state-based Ago on penalties with both teams tied1-1 at the end of regulation time.
The tournament which is designed for four outfield players and a goalkeeper differs from the original game of football in terms of pitch size, game length and goals.
Ago FC started the brighter of the sides and translated their early dominance into goal to the disbelief of many fans at the stadium.
De-Royals however recovered from their slow start to level the score few minutes before the end of the first half.
Both sides showed glimpses of the rich attacking threat in their arsenal in the second half but failed to convert their chances – meaning the game headed for penalties with Royals hanging on for a famous title defence.
Seven goals in the competition meant De-Royals marksman, Kabiru Nasiru, clinched both the Most Valuable Player and top scorer awards.
As it is the culture with five-a-side tourneys, fans who trooped in their mass were kept on the edge of their seats with some off-football activities such as music, rap battles and surprises from event sponsors, Olympic Milk.
FiveSports, the organisers of the event, thanked the sponsors for their support and highlighted their mission which is to make five-a-side sports the “most popular form of football in the world”.
“We would like to thank our Sponsors Olympic Milk for their immense support we really appreciate the fact that the brand has come to identify with Nigerian Sports through their various sponsorship of Sporting events,” Mr Bayo Akande of FiveSports said at the event.
“Our plan is to grow football fives in Nigeria. We intend to take it to such lofty heights that it would become the most popular form of football in the world.
“We brought the Amputee Soccer players here today for an exhibition game just so we can show the world a snippet of what we have planned for five-a-side football.
“The Lagos FA under 13 boys and girls and the under 15 boys have also shown to the world what they are capable of, this is just a tip of the iceberg as we reveal our long-term plans for five a-side football going forward.
“We also would like to thank our friends in the media who have been of immense help to this Fives tournament since hit the road last in search of the best five-a-side team in Nigeria. We must commend all the state FA’s we’ve worked with on this project.”
Akande also used the opportunity to thank the Nigeria Football Federation and for backing the Football Fives Initiative.
Present to cheer the teams and lend support to the organisers were former Super Eagles players, Victor Ikpeba and Jonathan Akpoborie; Olympic Gold medallist, Aniefiok Udoobong, as well as NFF 1st Vice-President who doubles as Chairman of Lagos FA, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi.
Others include former Secretary General of the defunct Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Dr. Tijani Yusuf; Senior Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Sports, Adeyinka Adeboye; veteran sports journalist, Yomi Opakunle, and Managing Director of Kinetic Sports (owners of the Copa Lagos Brand), Samson Adamu, among others.
Over 1000 teams across Nigeria participated in the pre-tournament exercise with 16 qualifying to take part in the competition proper.
De-Royals will now represent Nigeria at the 2016 F5WC finals holding in Bangkok, Thailand from March 2 to 6 2016.