Alyuf Salam Rocks: Still the tallest rock in Kwara’s national Federation Cup exploit


Kwara United Football Club on Saturday March 30, 2024, defeated Abubakar Bukola Saraki (Ilorin) Football Club 2-1 to win the 2024 State Federation Cup competition, retaining the title they seem to have dominated in recent times.

The highly explosive encounter was decided at Pitch A of the Kwara Football Academy, Ilorin.

Two quick goals from Sadeeq Yusuf and Paul Samson, both in the 11th and 17th minutes respectively, silenced ABS FC for the better part of the first half, only to regain their rythm in the second half. Annafi Babatunde reduced the tally in the 48th minute, to return the Nigeria National League (NNL) team into the game, but couldn’t go beyond that.

The two teams will represent the state in the national finals of the Federation Cup competition.

This again, has reminded all of the 1976 feat achieved by Alyuf Salam Rocks, reaching the national final of the Challenge Cup, and losing by 2-0 to Rangers International of Enugu.

That was how far Kwara state representatives could go in the history of the premier soccer competition introduced in 1945.

United came into existence following the buying over of the Division II space of Exide Sparkers of Ibadan by Kwara State government in 1997, and was renamed Kwara United FC, after the relegation of the former state team, Kwara Bombers to Division III the previous year.

The team won its first State Challenge Cup trophy in 1997. It repeated the feat in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Won it again in 2004 and 2005, and had won all editions from 2012 till date, except for 2014, when they lost to Abubakar Bukola Saraki FC 6-5 on penalties.

Other teams that had won the State Challenge Cup and had gone ahead to represent the state in the national Challenge Cup before and after the exploit of Alyuf Salam Rocks in 1976, most of which had gone into extinction, were Ilorin Divisional Football Association, Offa Divisional Football Association, Midland Stores Football Club, Jebba Pioneers Football Club, Kwara Water Corporation, Tate & Lyle Football Club, Ilorin, Super Stars FC, Kwara Breweries, Ijagbo, Kwasu Bombers, Kwara Bombers, NIPOST, Ilorin, Doyin Babes FC (Owned by the then Global Soap and Detergent Company), Okin Biscuits FC, Keshavan FC of Offa, Kwara Stars, Ilorin, Offa United FC, Bukola Babes FC, Kwara Football Academy and Abubakar Bukola Saraki (Ilorin) Football Club.

Kwara United had reached the quarter-finals of the national Challenge Cup on few occasions, just like Abubakar Bukola Saraki FC, which also had fair representation in the national competition.

Abubakar Bukola Saraki (Ilorin) Football Club, formerly known as Bukola Babes Football Club started sometime in April 2004 as a form of keep fit exercise for staffers of Government House, Ilorin at the Government House open field. It also served as an avenue for recreation and leisure after weeklong official activities. This idea was initiated by Mallam Abdul Adama, the then Personal Assistant to the Governor of Kwara State, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki.

Among the founding players of the club were Dr Bukola Saraki, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Cook Olododo, Alhaji Zakari Mohammed, late Hon. Yemi Afolayan among others. This weekend football training later metamorphosed into a football team and thereafter, attracted non-staffers of the Government House at the trainings, thus making the field not big enough to contain the large turnout.

This led to the movement of the training from Government House to Kwara Hotel football field and a substantive Coach, Festus Allen was contracted to handle the team. The founder of the team Mallam Abdul Adama was named Team Manager and the club was officially christened Bukola Football Club which according to the founder, was a way of appreciating their master and the then Governor of Kwara State, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki. The motto of the club was announced as “DISCIPLINE” with an acronym SAI BUKKY BOYS.

ABS Ilorin FC also won the Kwara State Challenge Cup, now Aiteo Cup in 2006 and 2007 back to back under Coach Daniel Azare. In 2007, ABS Ilorin FC made her entrance into the National Amateur League Division II. In the 2007/2008 National League, the Club again got promoted to National Amateur League Division One.

ABS Ilorin FC made history when in 2008/2009, the Club got promoted to the National Professional League, thus making the Club a full professional football outfit.

Realising the present status of the club and the challenges of managing it as a full professional outfit, the Team Manager Alhaji Abdul Adama, was elevated to the position of the Chairman, while a seasoned football administrator Alloy Chukwuemeka (ACC) was contracted as Team Manager.

ABS Ilorin FC in its first year in the professional league won the Kwara State 2010 Federation Cup by defeating Kwara United FC by 4-3 to lift the trophy. The club made history again when it got promoted to the apex league in Nigeria, the Premier League, after it finished as runners-up in the 2009/2010 Nigeria National league group B. The club made waves in the Nigeria Professional Football League and was nick-named the Giant-Killers” for defeating virtually all the top teams.

The club is presently in the Nigeria National League.

The history of football in Kwara state, a state that was created in 1967 alongside 11 other states, most importantly the capital city, Ilorin, is replete with clubs that have, from one time or the other, demonstrated the verve and artistry of the beautiful game. It began way back from the colonial days, but could be said to have taken proper shape from the 1940s.

Kwara State FA was officially inaugurated in 1973, with Alhaji Usman Mustapha as the pioneer Chairman. In 1975, the Challenge Cup was introduced, and this saw the coming of Midland FC, Tate and Lyle and other clubs into the scene. Most of the clubs had relatively short stay on the stage, with impacts limited to local competitions.

The defunct Alyuf Salam Rocks Football Club of Ilorin, Kwara State is arguably one of the best privately owned football outfit in the state before now, and one of the clubs that, even though had a relatively short reign, created history that has continued to stand the test of time in Kwara state and Nigerian football.

The club was formed on September 28, 1975, and it ceased to exist in 1982.

Late Alhaji Yusuf Adebayo Salami founded the famous soccer outfit back then. The late Salami was then a business tycoon based in Lagos. He was encouraged by his financial capacity, his love for the game of football and the need to satisfy the yearnings of football lovers in the state, who are in dare need of a formidable football club.

It came on the heels of the disbandment of Sadauki Rocks, which died following the demise of the owner and financier, late Alhaji Abubakar Sadauki, popularly known as ‘Mark One-One’.

Salami rose to the occasion by raising a team which he successfully led to stardom in 1976, as they reached the National Challenge Cup final.

One of those who steered Kwara Football to the path of great history was Alhaji Yusuf Adebayo Salami, popularly known then as Alyufsalam or Sarumi Dikaka Dikuku.

Late Salami grew up as a petty trader, having worked with several trading companies and establishments, and eventually progressed to be a big time and successful businessman.

Former Military Governor of the state, late Col. Ibrahim Taiwo, then a friend to late Salami also inspired him to support the formation of a football club.

Among the secrets behind the success of the club, especially in the 1976 Challenge Cup, was good and quality coaching, incentive for players, prompt attention to players’ requests and others.

And how did it all begin?

Some times ago, a remarkable old man, the late Alhaji Abubakar Sadauki, from the Hausa community in Ilorin, became a prominent factor in Kwara football. He walks the touchline from end to end, in white Kaftans, his pockets bulging with kola nuts that he gave freely to spectators.

He was the side attraction during games in Ilorin.

He shouts from the beginning to the end of every game; Mark One-One, Mark One-One’. That became his nickname and the trademark he was known for.

Late Alhaji Abubakar Sadauki’s great grandfather hails from Katsina, in Katsina state. His father, Lawal Mohammed met the mother in Ilorin, and they got married.

He left Katsina and came to Ilorin. He settled first at Basin, a place which up till today, is being referred to as Odo Baare in Basin, from where he left for Balogun Baare Compound in Ilorin.

Late ‘Mark One-One’ was a well-travelled businessman, who shuttled from Ilorin to all parts of the North, selling and buying cattle, beans and rice.

There was a time he left for the North and stayed there for a long time, that his father thought he had gone back to their place of origin. He later came back to Ilorin, and was selling bushmeat and dry fish at Oja Oba. He later became the Chairman of the Bush Meat and Fish Selling Association. Late Alhaji Abubakar Sadauki, according to one of his sons, Ibrahim Sadauki, loves people, and was a hardworking man.

He later expressed his love for football in a more socially responsible way, by founding a football club, Sadauki Football Club, in 1966. In 1970, the name of the team was changed to Sadauki Rocks.

Sadauki Rocks was the first team outside those directly tied to the big companies around then, like Tate and Lyle.

And incidentally, it was the game against Tate and Lyle that added to the popularity of Sadauki Rocks in Ilorin.

The historic match was played at the Mount Carmel College field, at Oloje, Ilorin which was and is still a considerable distance from the mainstream of Ilorin, in 1971.

Sadauki rocks won the match. Much later, especially when the popularity of the team was about to blossom, Alhaji ‘Mark One-One’ died, and the team was taken over by a Lagos-based businessman, late Alhaji Yusuf Adebayo Abdulsalam, who then renamed the team Alyuf Salam Rocks of Ilorin. Alhaji Abubakar Sadauki died in September 1974.

In 1971, the first Governor of the state, Bamigboye honoured the late Sadauki. Late Sadauki, it would be recalled, agitated for Kwara to have a befitting stadium, and that was the genesis of today’s Kwara State Stadium Complex


The club lost the final of the 1976 Federation Cup not because it could not compete well, but because of the joy of reaching the final, against all odds and expectations. On the road to the final, Alyuf Salam Rocks defeated Sea Lions 2-0, Mighty Jets of Jos by 2-0, defeated Shark FC 3-2 in a replay, after the first match ended two goals apiece, before playing Rangers in the final.

The team defeated Midland Stores in a replay, having won a protest, to win the State Challenge Cup.

Late Salami had promised his players a Subaru car each, if they win the National Challenge Cup. And since they did not win, they got a gold wrist watch each, as compensation.

Among the players that played for Alyuf Salam Rocks at one time or the other are Charles Tetteh, Victor Opone, Goerge Apprey, Nana Opoku, Annan Snr, Annan Jnr, Alhaji Haruna, Akehere, Livinus Ajufoh, Humphrey Okechukwu, Kola Ojomu, Charles Kuranteng, Allotey, Abdullahi Yaro, Fatai Sobalaje, Abdulazeez Sanni, Onuorah Obanyen, popularly known as Idi Amin and Issa Salman among others.


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