Last year’s runners-up and former African champions, Enyimba FC of Aba, will tango with Warri Wolves and Lobi Stars of Makurdi in what appears the pick of the group phase following Friday’s 2012 Federation Cup draw in Abuja.
The three Nigeria Premier League clubs will do battle in Group A at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, alongside, the only non-league side remaining in the campaign, Samba FC of Enugu.
At a colourful event inside the Ekiti Hall of NICON luxury hotel, Abuja, cup holders, Heartland FC of Owerri, also found out they will trade tackles with three northern Nigerian teams – Premier League’s Gombe United and Plateau United, as well as second-tier National League’s Nasarawa United FC. The Group D matches will come up in Port Harcourt.
In Group B, whose venue is the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, Kwara United FC of Ilorin and Pillars of Kano will contend with Crown FC of Ogbomosho and El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri.
Confluence Stadium, Lokoja, will host Group C matches that will involve Enugu Rangers; Sharks FC of Port Harcourt; Prime FC of Oshogbo; and a Nationwide League club, Dynamite Force of Edo.
The Director of competitions of the Nigeria Football Federaton (NFF), Mohammed Sanusi, who conducted the draw, also explained that the group stage will hold between 16th – 20th July, with the quarter finals to pitch the winner of Group A against runner-up of Group C; and winner of Group B against runner-up of Group D. Also, the winner of Group C will welcome the runner-up of Group A; and the winner of Group D will entertain the runner-up of Group B.
Already, the Nigeria Football Federation has picked the U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar, and the Ilorin Township Stadium to host the semi-final matches.
Federation International Football Association (FIFA) Instructors, Brendon Menton and Jacques Malie, who are in Nigeria for the on-going FIFA WIAWA administration and management course, picked the seeded teams’ centres. NFF executive committee members, Shehu Adamu and Ahmad Kawu, were also part of the occasion; as well as some state football association chairmen, and NFF management.
The grand finale will take place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos in August.