Bayelsa Queens lift fifth Nigeria Women’s League Premiership title

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After a poor 2021 outing in Ijebu Ode, Bayelsa Queens qualified for this year’s Super Six event with Nasarawa Amazons, Naija Ratels, Delta Queens, hosts Edo Queens and holders Rivers Angels, having ended the regular season as Group B winners.

The Prosperity ladies started the six-team tournament with a 2-1 victory over Rivers Angels, followed by a 4-0 thrashing of Naija Ratels and a 2-1 win over Edo Queens before a 1-0 win over Delta Queens to put themselves in pole position for the title.

With just a point to seal the crown, a first-half brace from Gift Monday in the ensuing final match against Nasarawa was all Bayelsa needed to reclaim the title for the first time in 2018.

The latest league success was Bayelsa’s fifth title following previous successes in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2018 and no one was as happier as the champions’ head coach Moses Aduku.

“Honestly, I don’t know how to express my feelings, because when I look back, just 12 months ago, this same competition almost cost me my job,” Aduku, who won his third domestic title in the last 12 months in Benin City, told CAFOnline.com.

“I found out that overconfidence was one of the things that affected us [in 2021] because of the regular season, but I had to tell the girls that we need to go as the underdog and see what God will do which paid off.

“Here I am the 2021-22 season champion. I am grateful to God and everyone who participated with us I must say thank you to the Bayelsa State Government because they’ve motivated us financially, they supported the team so well.”

The former international, when asked about what next for the club, said: “We going to be celebrating, and after that, we go back to the board and start to see how to start preparation immediately. We need to win at the WAFU B regional playoff to qualify, that’s the most important thing for now. So all our efforts must be towards qualifying. We must try to prepare well.”

Her brace against Nasarawa Amazons on Sunday earned Monday the Woman of the Match award as she took her Super Six tournament’s goal tally to nine goals in five games and swelled her season’s record to 12 goals in 10 games.

The FC Robo Queens loanee was left dumbstruck after enjoying a phenomenon campaign as she scooped the highest goalscorer and Most Valuable Player of the tournament awards.

“I feel really happy and grateful. What was in my mind was to help the team win Super 6 and I was glad to be able to achieve that,” Monday, told CAFOnline.com.

“I didn’t anticipate scoring these numbers of goals, but I am grateful. It means the future is bright for Gift Monday and I’ll keep working towards it. I want to show good performances every day.”

Her exploits had got many people talking following her exclusion from the 32-woman provisional squad, including the NFF board member Aisha Falode, who insists she deserves consideration.

“This definitely was her tournament, this was the tournament for Gift Monday, from the very first game to the last she was consistent, she enjoyed this tournament when a player enjoys a tournament you see the result,” Falode told CAFOnline.com.

“She thrived, she flourished so much which brings the question of why was she not included in the 32-woman list that to go to WAFCON, I’m sure the Super Falcons handlers will take a look at Monday again and agree she’s the kind of player we need for Nigeria to defend the title in Morocco. Monday is a team player, she carried her team. We need such players who can motivate the team, who can be leaders and carry the team and perform.”

Reviewing the tournament successes and teams’ performances, NWFL chairperson Falode lauded the teams’ spirited displays, while congratulating Bayelsa Queens and stressed that quality preparatory games will boost their continental success.

“I’m very satisfied, happy and very impressed. The super 6 this year was a turning point, a turning point in the quality of play we saw, the eagerness we saw, the fair play, and the discipline that the girls and the clubs demonstrated,” Falode told CAFOnline.com.

“Bayelsa Queens they almost came last at Ijebu-Ode, but they went back and look critically into the game, they knew what is needed to be done, and they came back to be champions.

“This is a team that has qualities and discipline, which is what is needed to compete at that level of the gathering of champions. A lot of work is needed to represent Nigeria better in Africa. A lot more work in exposing the girls to a high-quality training tour, and now is the time to be focused on the task ahead.”

For their efforts, champions Bayelsa Queens received five million naira (12,000 USD) as prize money and will represent the country at this year’s WAFU B qualifiers for the CAF Women’s Champions League, while runners-up Nasarawa Amazons bagged three million naira (7,222 USD) and third-placed Rivers Angels got two million naira (4,822 USD).

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