By Ugboaja,Stanley U.

The organizers of the most followed collegiate football competition in Nigeria, Pace Sports and Entertainment Marketing Company has given approval to the Federal University of Technology, Minna to stage the 2021 zonal qualifiers of the Higher Institution Football League (HIFL).

The approval was communicated to the Chairman, University Sports Committee, Prof. Rasheed Ojutiku via a letter dated March 23, 2021.

Specifically, the letter quoted the Director, Pace Sports & Entertainment Marketing Company, Mr. Sola Fijabi who said the decision to choose FUTMinna as host of the zonal football competition was based on the top-notch nature of the university’s sporting facilities, especially the good condition of the institution’s football turf, which he noted would be a perfect advert for collegiate football competition.

Mr. Fijabi disclosed that students and fans are in for a great experience when the competition kicks off across the country in April, adding that they have concluded plans to stage a special football fiesta. He further stated that this year’s edition would be staged with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, even as he disclosed that all players would be subjected to a COVID-19 test.

On his part, the Chairman, FUTMinna Sports Committee, Prof. Rasheed Ojutiku assured that the University would stage a hitch-free competition based on the plans put in place by the committee as well as the massive support received from the sports-loving Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, fsssn.

Prof. Ojutiku revealed that the players are in camp undergoing intense training, playing a series of friendly matches with some top football teams in the city, while fine-tuning tactical preparations for the competition. He expressed hope that the team would clinch one of the two tickets available in the group, based on the quality of players selected by the gaffer.

The University football team code named “The Transformers” by the organizers have been drawn in Group B alongside Benue State University, Makurdi; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Federal University Lokoja and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State.

The two teams with the highest points at the end of the round-robin event will proceed to the knock-out stage to be played on home-away basis.

The zonal qualifiers is billed to commence on April 19-23, 2021 at the football field, Main Campus, Gidan Kwano.

According to the comprehensive match fixtures released by the organizers, 52 universities are expected to slug it out in this year’s edition of the soccer showpiece, with 50 games to be played across 20 cities in 18 weeks.

The HIFL is an annual football competition for higher education institutions in Nigeria. The league is open to all member universities of the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) and all games except the final four are played in the campuses of participating universities.

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