Seals Cup ‘23: 3 Games, 3 Wins, 9 Goals, 9 Points

Since the beginning of the 2022/2023 session in the University of Ibadan, the Seals Cup has been the event with the most crowd pull. From the hundreds of students shouting on top of their voices – in reaction to games – to the 22 players in customized jerseys running around the leather ball, the SUB pitch has been a beautiful sight on every matchday. The opening ceremony was crowned with the first game of the tournament between the defending champions (Geography) and Petroleum Engineering on the 29th of September which ended in a 1:0 win in favour of the defending champions.

Match Day 1
MBBS, grouped with Philosophy, Adult Education, and Mechanical Engineering, played their first group stage game against Adult Education on the 2nd of October. The match kicked off about some minutes to 5 and we witnessed a goalless 25-minute first-half where both sides committed a considerable number of fouls. 120 seconds into the second-half of the game, David Akinnusoye AKA Sir Dave of MBBS, lobbed a ball from the midfield – into the final third – which was miscalculated by Adult Education’s goalie and eventually went over his head and bounced into the back of the net to give MBBS the lead. The game came alive once again as coach Mark Obeya of MBBS cheered up his players to go for another goal while the fans celebrated the first.

Eleven minutes later, a shabby clearance from one of Adult Education’s defenders found its way to the legs of Ola of MBBS and the forward wasted no time in finding a balance and registering a left-footed finish to take MBBS two goals ahead. The game went on for another thirteen minutes without any goal from both sides and it ended in a 2-0 win for MBBS. Ecstasy ensued from the stands as students from the winning department ran across the pitch to celebrate their deserved win. It was a good way to start the tournament although not good enough judging by the quality of players from MBBS and quality of play from the opposition, according to Saliyu Basit, UIMSA’s Male Football Team Captain. Earlier that day, Philosophy defeated Mech. Engineering by three goals to nil to move atop the group B table with three points and a goal difference of +3. MBBS followed with a win and goal difference of +2 while Adult Education and Mech. Engineering followed, respectively, with 0 points and -2 and -3 goal differences.

Match Day 2
MBBS faced Philosophy next on the 5th of October. The game kicked off at exactly one minute past 5pm that evening and MBBS had the larger share of possession in the first ten minutes. Judging from the first gameday results, a sizeable crowd – read as a larger number than on the previous gameday – were present and expectant to see who would come out victorious. While Karbon and Jide from MBBS registered a few shots, Habeeb disturbed the opponents with his fearless runs, dribbled past defenders on occasions, and, ultimately, won fouls to pose more threats on Philosophy. Both sides fought to get the opener with MBBS being successful on that account with Philosophy giving away a penalty via a handball in the 21st minute which Karbon subsequently converted. Philosophy began to fold under pressure from MBBS but were good enough to go for the half-time break without conceding another.

The first ten minutes of the second half were very intense as Philosophy wanted to get back into the game with an equalizer. The goal drought only lasted for some time as Jide of MBBS received a through ball from Lukman and lobbed on-rushing goalie to put MBBS two goals up. Two goals behind and the Philosophy players seemed demoralised. Amidst an ongoing scuffle in the stands, Habeeb played a corner to Abang who squared it for Istanbul who volleyed from the edge of the 18-yard box to make it 3:0 to MBBS. This happened in the last minute of the game and the referee blew the full-time whistle seconds after. The game between Adult Education and Mech. Engineering was postponed for some unknown reasons but Adult Education came out 2:0 winners when it was eventually played. With those results, MBBS took top spot on the table with 6 points and a goal difference of +5. Philosophy and Adult Education were 2nd and 3rd respectively with the same number of points (3) and the same goal difference (0). Mech. Engineering had 0 points and a goal difference of -5.

Match Day 3
For the last group stage game, MBBS faced Mech. Engineering on the 13th of October. The match kicked off some minutes past 3pm and in the fifth minute of the game, Gerald scored a sublime header from a cross by Habeeb. Two minutes later, Jide scored after Fu’aad dribbled past some players and squared the ball to him. In the next minute, Jide got a brace with an assist from Gerald who played the ball behind the last defender to put it on a plate for him. It was the eighth minute of the game and MBBS were 3 goals up. In the 10th minute, while supporters were still celebrating, Jide secured his hattrick after getting served by Habeeb once again. At that time, John Eriomala, the reporter, said that Mech. Engineering players were incapable of doing anything. Jide missed a chance to make it a haul before the halftime whistle.

Second half came on a few minutes later and the defenders in MBBS looked bored as they had barely been tested. Coach Mark Obeya made quadruple substitutions at once for the bench players to have a fun time as well. Mech. Engineering played better in the second half as MBBS was beginning to lose its cohesion. However it was too late for them as the second half ended goalless. Philosophy played Adult Education earlier in the day but the match was inconclusive as a 2-1 game – in favour of Philosophy – stopped in the second half when Adult Education players walked off the pitch after expressing displeasure with the officiating.

Knockout Stages
From Group B, MBBS and Philosophy qualified to the round of 16 with 9 and 6 points respectively. MBBS had a clean sheet in all group stage games, scoring 9 goals on the way. MBBS will face Microbiology while Philosophy will face Educational Management in the next round which starts on Monday, 16th of October. Sixteen teams are racing on the road to the final where we can only have one winner. Which department is lifting that cup? Stay with UIMSA Press.

Peter Adeyemo.

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