By: Kelvin Omachonu
The Katanga Elite Football League 2021 kicked off on the 12th of October, and it came with a show of magnificence and a colourful show of display as accustomed to the competition in recent years.
The show of eye-catching dribbles, tackles, jaw-dropping goals and banters were in full parade. The rain also showed its prowess in full force, as the Indy Hall Maracana was literally mudded for most part of the competition. However, despite the circumstances surrounding this session, with Independence hall entertaining only half of its usual capacity, the competition still went on quite well.
After claiming the trophy last year, albeit controversial, A4 looked to defend their title. However, the method of room allocation this year ensured that the entire A-block was dominated by freshmen, as staylites and finalists became rare species occupying the other blocks. D-block were also granted their usual by-pass, as they were given the privilege of beginning their campaign from the knockout stages. They also allowed the field two teams (D1 and D2), and as usual, both teams were allowed to share players.
The competition opener was the game between C3 and C4, a six-goal thriller which saw C3 show mental strength to comeback from a two-goal deficit in the first half to punish their opponents 4-2. The quality of play from both sides was quite outstanding. C1, from the same group also played quality football, as they paraded usual Maracana protagonists like: Micheal AKA Carzola and Benjamin AKA Carbon. With the kind of quality within their disposal, it was no surprise that they were touted as top favorites to claim the coveted KEFA trophy. A2 also played an admirable football, as the likes of Toheeb AKA Bammie put up outstanding performances. Their outstanding play earned them a spot at the summit of their group at the end of group proceedings, they were closely followed by A1. In B-block, B4 flattered to deceive as they could only manage a second place finish behind B1 despite the kind of quality they had in their coffers.
As group winners, A2 were paired up against B4 in one of the quarter-final fixtures. The game proved to be an enthralling one, as both sides put up strong performances. In the end, they had to settle for a 2-2 stalemate. However, they nicked it 3-2 on penalties. In the second quarter final fixture, A1 went up against B2, and it turned out to be a show of dominance from the men from A1, as they thrashed B2 4-1 to advance to the semi-finals.
D-block began their journey from the quarter-finals as stated earlier, and coincidentally, they were paired against the C-block teams. Asides C1, D-block were also top favorites, not because of their squad depth- they also had more experience playing on the Maracana pitch as they were all finalists. The draw happened to be the doom for the C-blockers, as D-block showed their prowess, dispatching both C1 and C3.
D1 saw off C3 1-0 thanks to an early first goal from Michael, while D2 beat C1 on penalties, albeit, trailing for most members of the game. This ensured that the semi-final fixtures would be an A-block Vs D-block show. D1 squared off against A2, while D2 went up against A1. However, it was the finalists who came out unscathed, as D1 beat A2 4-2, while A1 were thrashed 5-2 by D2 to ensure that both D-block teams booked their spots in the finals.
It’s already an established fact that D-block was one entity that was producing two teams, however, D1 and D2 were allowed to share players, the gravity of the final was watered down to a mere formality. However, A1 and A2 still had scores to settle as they had the third place spot to battle for on, Sunday 24th of October. It was total annihilation for A1, as whilst Liverpool were demolishing Manchester United at the Old Trafford in Manchester, A2 were doing same to A1 at the Indy Hall Maracana as A2 secured a third place finish with a 5-1 victory.
After the game, the Medals were presented to the players by Dr Eyiomo, Barrister Majoro, and Mr Magboh Valentine. Onuobia Tochukwu AKA Nubzy of D-block carted away the MVP and Golden boot award after scoring ten goals in five games, while Fowowe Victor won the Golden boy award after scoring four goals to help his A1 to a fourth place berth.