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‘Away Form Would Decide 2016 NPFL’

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For any team to win the
Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) these days, it has to have an impressive away form.
With improved officiating, teams are now more likely to pick points away from home as home invincibility no longer exists in the league.
Gone are the days a team would bank on 100 percent record at home and one or two draws away from home to win the league.
It is virtually impossible for a team to be crowned Nigeria champions in this dispensation without winning on away soil.
In fact, the more away matches a team wins, the better their chances of winning the title. There are stats to buttress this.
It will be noted that 31 away victories were recorded last season, the highest in the Premier League in the past 10 years.
Last season, Enyimba set a new league record of five away wins to win the title.
To pick the third continental ticket, Nasarawa had to fall back on a good run of away form that saw ‘The Solid Miners’ win four away games in the second round.
This term has not been different. All the top 10 teams on the table have one thing in common – they have all won an away game. The only team outside the top 10 to have won away from home are Warri Wolves.
Save for Giwa’s expulsion which meant Rangers’ 1-0 defeat of Giwa in Jos didn’t stand, the top three teams would have had two away victories each.
Wikki (2), Rangers (1) and Rivers United (2) are leading the pack. Rangers’ bouncing back to prominence was boosted by the 2-1 defeat of Heartland recently. If the Giwa game had counted, they would have been top now. But knowing how crucial points on the road are in the race, they did the needful in Owerri.
Wikki won away to El Kanemi on the opening day and beat Ikorodu in Lagos when the second stanza resumed a couple of weeks ago.
In the same vein, Rivers United’s unlikely charge at the title is down to two road victories against Ikorodu in Week 9 and Wolves in Week 15. The romance with the top particularly started after that Week 15 success.
Pillars (1 away victory), Lobi (1), MFM (1), Enyimba (2), Sunshine (1), Abia Warriors (2) and Akwa United (1) complete the top 10 teams on the table.
The top 10 teams have amassed 68 of the 84 away points garnered by away teams this season. So, the teams in the lower rung have pulled in just 16.
On the contrary, the fortunes of the relegation-threatened teams have been hampered by poor home form.
Four of the bottom six teams, namely Ikorodu, Shooting Stars, Heartland and El Kanemi, have lost twice at home.
Nasarawa has lost once, same as 13th-placed Wolves. Only 17th-placed Plateau are yet to lose at home.
A team like Heartland has drawn the most matches away (5) which could translate to one away win and two draws but have been largely undone by the two home losses.
It could therefore be deduced that while the teams who win more away matches will fight for the trophy, the ones who lose more home matches will battle for survival.
Only nine teams are yet to lose at home this term. They are Wikki, Rivers, Enyimba, MFM, Lobi, Rangers, Ifeanyi Uba (since the opening day home loss to Giwa no longer counts), Plateau and Tornadoes.
If the away victories involving Giwa had counted (they won one away game and lost two at home), the current season would have recorded 18 away victories so far, but at 15 away wins, last year’s 31 away wins could still be surpassed.
The good news however is that teams can now aspire to win anywhere.
Nwankpa Jnr writes for African football.com

 

Clement Nwankpa Jr

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Aiteo Cup: Diri Hails Bayelsa Finalists

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has lauded the feat of the state-owned football teams who reached the finals in the male and female categories of the 2021 Aiteo Cup.
Diri, while congratulating Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens for their outstanding performances, praised their indomitable spirit and resilience in surmounting the odds to qualify for the last stage of Nigeria’s oldest football competition.
Bayelsa United, who plays in the second tier Nigerian National League, on Friday defeated Premier League neighbours Rivers United 1-0 in the semi-finals, while Bayelsa Queens crushed perennial rivals Rivers Angels 5-0 to reach the women’s final.
The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, on Saturday, described Bayelsa United as “giant killers” for defeating Premier League sides Enugu Rangers, Lobi Stars and Rivers United on their way to the final.
“The excellent run of Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens in this year’s Aiteo Cup is very heartwarming. Both teams reaching the finals is no mean feat. I congratulate them for making the state proud and setting a record of teams from the state playing in the finals of the male and female categories of the same competition for the first time,” Diri stated.
“By their outstanding performance, Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens have shown that the sporting revolution of our Prosperity Administration, which resulted in Bayelsa placing third in the last National Sports Festival in Edo State for the first time, is on course. I therefore urge them to complete their excellent run in the competition by bringing home the trophies.

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D’Tigress To Play Mozambique In Afrobasket

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Nigeria’s senior basketball team, D’Tigress, have been drawn to face Mozambique and a yet to qualify team in Group B of the 2021 Women’s Afrobasket, which holds from September 17 to 27 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The draw was held in Yaounde last Saturday.
D’Tigress will be hoping to retain the title they won two years ago in Senegal, where they defeated the hosts in the final. A win in Cameroon will mean they have won the last three editions of the tournament.
The Nigerians will know their final group opponent when the FIBA Zone 6 qualifiers take place from August 16 to 22.
In Group A, hosts Cameroon will face Cape Verde and Kenya, while Senegal, the most successful team in the competition’s history with 11 first-place finishes, will slug it out with Egypt and Gabon in Group C.
Mali, Ivory Coast, and a team to be decided via wild card will fight for a slot in the next round in Group D.

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Ebonyi Football Fans Celebrate Nwankwo Kanu At 45

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Football fans in Ebonyi State yesterday, celebrated the birthday of formerNigerian international and Arsenal legend, Nwankwo Kanu.
The former Super Eagles skipper turned 45 yesterday.
Tidespoets source gathered  that the 1993 FIFA U-17 world cup winner, fondly called “Papillo’’ by his fans had 86 caps for Nigeria.
The former Iwuanyanwu Nationale Football Club of Owerri’s talisman scored 13 goals for Nigeria in an enviable career that spanned from 1994 to 2010.
Kanu is a recipient of the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), an Olympic Games football gold medalist and had illustrious club careers with Ajax Amsterdam of Holland, Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion of England.
Defunct Ebonyi Angels FC of Abakaliki Defender, James Onele, said that Kanu thrilled soccer fans across the world with sublime skills and trademark passes.
“Kanu won two African Footballer of the Year awards, an AFCON silver medal, four AFCON bronze medals among other honours.
“He was the first Nigerian, alongside Finidi George to win the prestigious UEFA champions league trophy with Ajax in 1995,” said Onele.
An Arsenal FC supporter, Ejike Okoro, said the club’s fans were proud of Kanu’s achievements during his time with the English Premier League side.
“Kanu played 197 times for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals and was part of the club’s invincible team that did not lose any match in the 2003-04 EPL season.
“He was instrumental in endearing Arsenal to millions of Nigerian soccer fans, despite later dropping to lowly-rated clubs such as Portsmouth and West Bromwich Albion,” Okoro said.
A banker and football enthusiast, Chief Barry Ogoh, told active footballers to emulate Papillo in investing adequately for the ‘rainy day’.
“Kanu, Augustine J.J. Okocha, among other ex-internationals are still financially stable as many ex-internationals have become bankrupt.

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