By Babatunde Alao:
As the defending champions of the Lagos SWAN Cup last year, all eyes were on Complete Sports prior to the kick-off of the 2018 edition which was sponsored by bet9ja. And from the start of the competition held at the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium in Lagos, the Ojeagbase Bombers were simply the team to beat.
Unknown to many, Complete Sports paraded a slightly depleted team from the one that won the trophy last year with a number of key players missing. Liverpool star forward, Mumini Alao was not released by the Reds who are desperate to win the English Premier League this season and same goes for Arsenal striker, Dare Esan. Veteran defender Wale Ajose retired from international duty to focus on club engagements with Juventus while Chelsea agreed to release star midfielder Johnny Edward only for the group stages.
But the Complete Sports squad, despite the drawback, remained formidable with new Manchester City midfielder Babatunde Alao, Arsenal winger Julius Ojeagbase, Real Madrid duo of Joseph Ambrose and John Chijiioke and others still in the team and their combined experiences helped the team’s cause on the way to victory.
It was therefore no surprise as Complete Sports hit the ground running from the group stages and whalloped Inspiration FM 5-0 in their first match which sent shivers down the spines of other opponents.
In the second group game, Radio Nigeria proved stubborn and escaped with 2-2 draw. They dared to score first but CS replied with two quick goals before they scrambled to get the draw. CS promptly returned to winning ways in the third group game by destroying Sports Compass 3-1 while the sun set early for the Sun Newspapers as they were thrashed 4-2 by CS in the last group game as CS book the quarter final ticket as Group C leaders.
Unilag FM were unlucky to be drawn against CS in the quarter final and they would wish they had not turned up for the game as they were mauled 5-1 by the rampaging CS. The semi-final proved a tricky and difficult one as hard-fighting Sports Vision played out a 1-1 draw with CS during regulation time but their vision were eventually disrupted as they succumbed to the superior firepower of CS in the penalty shootout which ended 4-3 in favour of the defending champions to proceed to the final.
In the final, Community Watch having watched how CS crushed all opposition on their way to the final, tried to play negative football to upset the Ojeagbase Bombers. They sent emissaries to Jose Mourinho who forwarded to them his renown ‘bus-packing’ techniques to frustrate the high-scoring CS team but it proved abortive as Complete Sports eventually beat them 1-0 to emerge as back-to-back champions.
In all, Complete Sports played a total of 7 games in which they drew 1 and won 6 to emerge 2018 bet9ja Lagos SWAN Cup champions.
CS scored a total of 21 goals (excluding penalty shootout goals) while conceding 7 goals. Ambrose scored 9 of the goals which fetched him the MVP award. Complete Sports have now won the competition three times: in 2012, 2017 and 2018.
SQUAD: Godwin Friday (GK), Johnny Edwards, Julius Ojeagbase (c), Babatunde Alao, Michael Ekezie, Joseph Ambrose, John Chijioke, Ascent Egoigbe, Francis Jacob, Obinna Livinus, Kelechi Ekezie.
ROAD TO FINAL
Complete Sports 5-0 Inspiration FM
Complete Sports 2-2 Radio Nigeria
Complete Sports 3-1 Sports Compass
Complete Sports 4-2 Sun Newspapers
Complete Sports 5-1 Unilag FM
Complete Sports 1(4) – 1(3)Sports Vision
Complete Sports 1-0 Community Watch