By Samuel Bamisebi

After a week filled with intense, exciting and scintillating football buttered with skill, tackles and goal, ten teams have made it through to the round of 16 knockout stage to join the four semi finalist from the last edition in the Higher Institution Football League (HIFL2021) organised by PACE Sports Management.

Two teams each from the five zones A-E made it through after finishing top of their group and they will be joined by two teams selected as best losers to complete the R16 teams.

University of Benin (Uniben) were the best performing team overall in the group stage after amassing 10points from a possible twelve in Zone D as they qualified top of their group followed by Adekunle Ajasin University,Akungba (AAUA).

First timers Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE) were the highest scoring team in the group phase with a total of eleven goals scored as they finished second in their zone, Zone E and qualified with 7points from twelve, one behind the leader University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

Zone A provided the tightest group with Kogi State University (KSU) finishing top with nine points, closely followed by University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) and Bayero University Kano (BUK) who both finished with seven points but had to be separated by goal difference as UNIMAID qualified with a superior +2 GD to BUK’s zero.

Zone B can be described as the “luck of the draw” for both teams who made it through. Federal University of Technology Minna (FUTMINNA) and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) found themselves as the only participants in Zone B after the other two teams withdrew from the competition late and as such both teams played one game which ended in a 0-0 draw, went into penalties and FUTMINNA won the shootout 3-1 to finish top of the group, however both teams made it through to the Knockout stage. Wheeew!!! Such luck.

Zone C was yet another group with stiff competition. Six teams shared into two groups in the zone, each to play two games. Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) topped their group with 4pts ahead of Onabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) with 3pts and Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) finishing bottom of that group. In the second group of the zone, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) topped their group on goal scored after finishing on 4pts with University of Lagos and also same goal difference of +1. Lautech however scored three goals and Unilag scored two.

Final list of teams who made it to the knockout stages:
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Federal University of Technology Akure, Federal University of Technology Minna, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kogi State University, University of Maiduguri, University of Benin, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education. They join the four semi finalist from last season in University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM), University of Calabar (UNICAL), Obafemi Awolowo University Ife (OAU) and University of Ilorin.

The round of 16 will be completed by two best loser teams to join the others and leading the line is University of Lagos and Bayero University Kano who have the highest Point per game (PPG) after leveling the number of games played.