Deadlock was almost broken by the Lagos female team 11 minute into the game, but for the heroic intervention of goal keeper of Owerri who ensured scores remained level.
With a midfield that appeared to have no answer to the pressure from Lagos, the Owerri side looked more disorganized with every tick of the clock. They however, held on to the end of regulation time, but deservedly lost in the shoot-out to Lagos.
Benin needed a lone strike off the boot of Torena Terga who ran onto a through ball before slotting past goal keeper AbdulKadir Ajumobi of Ibadan to qualify for the semi-final stage.
Defending champion, Port Harcourt suffered a first half scare and appeared to be out of the tournament after going down by a lone goal in the 10th minute of the first half. Jos had taken the lead through Waken Katon , but Port Harcourt made even the score line early in the second half when Success Elendu scored from a rebound, and eventually went on to win the match 4-2 via penalties.
The South-South team gave a good account of themselves in the second half with some coordinated and entertaining play and good foot works which often drew applause from the crowd.
In the male category, Port Harcourt scored twice to hand down a two-goal defeat to Owerri. The goals which came in each half of the encounter placed the South-South side above the rest in the team scorers' chart.
Kaduna had to wait for penalties to emerge victorious over an enterprising Ibadan side. It was coasting to victory until two minutes from time when the South-West converted from the spot to stretch the match into penalty shoot-out.
Lagos lost by a lone own goal to Plateau in the final match in the male category.
The tournament continues today with Semi-final matches to be decided for places in the final matches to be played on Sunday.
The Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tourney, a unique pan African initiative of Airtel Africa, is designed to provide support for the development of football talents across her African markets. It aims at discovering talented students (male and female) of secondary school age and providing them the opportunity to gain football skills and develop into renowned stars.
In the maiden edition held in September last year at Campos Square, Lagos, Gombe zone emerged national champion after edging out their counterparts from Owerri in the final match via penalty shootout in the male category while Port Harcourt zone defeated Kaduna in the final match to win the female category.