Kebbi Beach Soccer Club are champions of the maiden Nigerian Beach Soccer League season after they edged Kada Beach Soccer club to 4-3 extra-time win at the newly built Kaduna Beach Soccer Stadium.
Kebbi, Kada, Smart City, and Kwara beach soccer clubs finished among the top four from the eight-team inaugural league season following three round-robin meetings in Lagos, Kebbi and Kwara respectively to converge in Kaduna for the Super 4 to determine the overall first-ever champions.
Kebbi made a bright start to the tournament as they edged Smart City 7-6 and followed by a 6-3 win over Kwara but bounced back to drag hosts Kada into the extra time before eventually securing a 4-3 triumph.
The inaugural season success at the Muritala Square saw the 49th world and Africa’s highest-ranked club proved its mettle, and no one was as fulfilled as Kebbi’s captain Kareem Hammed.
“Being the champion was not easy, we are not the best, but God made it possible for us,” the Supersand Eagles player told Cafonline.com.
“To achieve this, we put our strength. We are prepared for more challenges to come as we will not relent as we train, be at our best always. I cannot express the joy I have right now, because this is the first time this (Beach Soccer League) ever happen in Nigeria.
“We have been praying for this league many years back because looking at the Nigerian Beach Soccer, it lacks the proper structure of the beach soccer development in the country.
“So it affects preparation when going to play for the Africa Cup of Nations or World Cup, but now, this introduction will develop beach soccer players and stop the borrowing of players from the Nigerian Professional Football League to play for the national team in future.”
Hosts Kada narrowly missed out on the title as they finished second behind champions Kebbi but Kaduna Beach Soccer Association chairman Engineer Musa Nimrod takes away a lot of positives.
“I am comfortable with the result, it’s a great one from my team. We have succeeded at the first trial and I am optimistic that greater success is coming,” Nimrod said.
“They (Kada) should put in their best to train for the upcoming national and continental competitions, seeing the great resources the Nigeria Football Federation has fixed on the ground.”
While reviewing the successes and challenges of the inaugural season, elated NFF executive member and Nigeria Beach Soccer Association chairman Honorable Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande reinstated his leadership’s drive in improving the fortune of the sport in the country.
“I think it’s been very impressive, this is the first time, this our first league, we thank God that everything went on smooth. For the first time, we are seeing something big, I am impressed,” Kwande said.
“I think we should look for something bigger and better, considering this crowd here in Kaduna. We are pleading for sponsors to come to our aid, I know that beach soccer is relatively new but we would go on an aggressive sponsorship drive.
“When we stopped the Sand Eagles, it was because we weren’t having a beach soccer league so the players were gotten from normal football and now that we have a Beach Soccer league, I am sure by the time we’ve played a couple of seasons, NFF will consider bringing back the national team for international competitions.”
Smart City of Lagos won the bronze medal, after beating Kwara 6-0 in the third-place classification match earlier in the day. Smart City’s Akpan Abraham was named the tournament’s topscorer award on eight goals.