By George Akpayen
Niger Tornadoes captain and goalkeeper Mustapha Salihu Aliko feels his team were unfortunate to miss out on the opportunity of winning the AITEO Cup against Akwa United at the Agege Stadium in Lagos on Sunday.
Aliko despite keeping a clean sheet in open for his club was distraught when npfl.ng caught up with him.
He stated that lady luck deserted Tornadoes when the penalty shootout took place and still finds it hardly to swallow.
The former Nigeria youth international added that all of Tornadoes penalty-takers on the night were their specialists and that they even had a session for penalties in their training for the game against Akwa United.
“It is very, very painful that we lost the final because we gave it our all – we put in everything to win it. I believe we were just unlucky when it came to penalty shootout. At some point we were leading and then we could not take our advantage.
“All of them who played our penalties are our penalty specialists. We trained for penalties and unfortunately things did not go our way.
“I was happy when I saved two of their penalties but it did not change anything. We can’t blame anyone because everyone in our team wanted to win this and we showed that during the match. We were just not lucky enough,” Aliko said.
Aliko saved the spot kicks of Ifeanyi Ifeanyi and Chigozie Chilekwu to underscore why he finished with 14 clean sheets in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) behind Nasarawa United stopper Suraj Ayeleso who had one more to finish with the best goalkeeping record.
The Tornadoes goalkeeper now hopes they can build on their performance in the AITEO Cup and the league this past season in the coming one.
“We have learnt a few things last season in the league, and now in the AITEO Cup. We will just need to work more hard and hope we are lucky enough next season to win something,” he said.