Head Coach of 2017 Aiteo Cup winners Akwa United, Abdullahi Maikaba has played down his side’s 2-0 loss to Nasarawa United in their final group game, insisting his boys will be fully ready for their crunch quarterfinals clash against Enugu Rangers, reports.

Maikaba, who was speaking after his team failed to score for the first time in this season’s cup competition, said that they will reignite their scoring form ahead of the quarterfinals match.

“Actually, we started the game against Nasarawa well but the boys lost concentration after conceding the first goal. We lost our style and struggled to get back into the game.

“In the last game we made 8 changes to the team that played the first two matches, but now we will have the players back fresh and ready to give their all. I know Enugu Rangers will be a very tough opponent but I’m confident we can defend our title,” Maikaba concluded.

Akwa United finished second in their group with 4 six points following wins against Kogi United and Wikki Tourists and will next face Enugu Rangers in Kano with the winner advancing to the semifinals.

Similarly, Head coach of Nasarawa United, Kabiru Dogo has said that his team are well on course to go better than their 2016 FA Cup feat where they reached the finals after beating defending champions Akwa United 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals.

The Solid Miners’ coach said hard work and support from the Aba fans have been their greatest motivation so far.

“For me, hard work from the players and the support we receive from the fans have cheered us to victory here in Aba. We have achieved the most difficult part which is the quarterfinals stage, so now we must focus well because every game is like a final to us.

“Two years ago we got to the final and lost but this season I believe we can do better and win the competition because I believe it’s very open to all eight teams left,” Dogo concluded

Nasarawa United will next take on El-Kanemi Warriors in the quarterfinals stage after finishing first in their pool with 7 points from three games.