The battle for a national title and a 2022/2023 CAF Confederation Cup ticket heightens this weekend as competition in the 2022 Aiteo Federation Cup enters the round of 64.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the annual national football competition began on Tuesday with the preliminary round fixtures.
The qualifiers have now advanced to the round of 64 to face some of the seeded teams, which include several former national FA Cup and Federation Cup winners.
Those in this category include the likes of Enyimba International of Aba, Niger Tornadoes of Minna, Lobi Stars of Makurdi, Rangers International of Enugu and Heartland FC of Owerri.
Others are El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, Wikki Tourists of Bauchi, Bendel Insurance FC of Benin and Nasarawa United of Lafia.
They are also clubsides whose campaign in the 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) failed to yield either the title or a ticket to play on the continent next season.
Now, they have to contend with the likes of Gombe United, Sunshine Stars of Akure, Katsina United, Akwa United of Uyo, Kwara United of Ilorin and Abia Warriors of Umuahia.
They will all jostle for the remaining continental club competition ticket, with the contest becoming stiffer with the surprise element brought into it by the so-called underdogs.
Just like last year when Nigeria National League (NNL) side Bayelsa United of Yenagoa won the competition, the lower league sides are like a red light to the top-flight sides.