The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has successfully defended their title as champions of the Ships & Ports Maritime Cup after defeating Nigeria Customs Service in the final match of the 2023 edition of the tournament.
NPA, which was a goal down by the end of the first half of the highly tensed final match, equalized in the second half. The score remained 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes of play, and had to be decided by penalty kicks which ended 4-3 in favour of NPA.
NPA carried the day with an aggregate 5-4 score.
NPA has now won the Maritime Cup three times (2018, 2022 and 2023). This is, however, their first back-to-back victory.
The Koko Marines, as the team is popularly called, started their Maritime Cup 2023 battle in Group A. In the opening match of the tournament on October 24, the team defeated Nigerian Shippers’ Council 2-0; played a 2-2 draw with Comet Shipping on October 27 and defeated COSCO Shipping 3-0 on October 31 to book the top spot in Group A with seven points.
In the quarterfinal match played on November 6, the Koko Marines defeated 2019 runner-up Josepdam Port Services 2-0 while they defeated 2009 champions Nigerian Navy 1-0 in the semi-final match played on Wednesday November 8.
In addition to winning the trophy, NPA got a cash prize of N2 million from the organisers Ships & Ports, while the runners-up Nigeria Customs Service got N500,000. Nigerian Navy which won the third place match received N300,000.
Prizes were also presented to the Most Valuable Player, Best Goalkeeper and Fair Play Team, which was won by Trucks Transit Parks (TTP).
The Chief Executive Officer of Ships & Ports, Dr Bolaji Akinola commended the 15 companies and agencies that participated in the 2023 Maritime Cup tournament.
He expressed delight with the quality of the teams that participated and the “excellent organisation and officiating” that characterised the tournament.
“The maritime industry is very proud of the outcome of the tournament. We are one big happy family in the maritime industry and I am happy that the Ships & Ports Maritime Cup has become a platform for uniting the industry,” Dr Akinola said.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the final match/closing ceremony of the tournament, commended Ships & Ports for being consistent in organising the tournament for the past 14 years.
She also commended the organisers for dedicating the Maritime Cup 2023 to the memory of late Barr. Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, who was an ardent supporter of the tournament until her death in April this year.