With almost a third of the NPFL season gone, patterns are starting to emerge. The title contenders are setting their stalls in the top echelon of the table, while the battle for survival at the other end is also brewing.
Kano Pillars lead the way with 23 points from 12 matches, with Enyimba and Kwara United in second and third respectively with 22 points each.
However, Enyimba have played two matches less than both Pillars and Kwara United.
Despite having games in hand over most of their closest rivals, Enyimba will be slightly disappointed that they are not leading the NPFL after the latest round of midweek matches.
Given their previously unblemished home form, they would have expected to take care of business when Akwa United visited Aba on matchday 12.
The two-time African champions were a perfect five from five at home, but they suffered a rare blip on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 with The Promise Keepers.
Perhaps their involvement in the continent had a role to play in the below par performance and result.
The league game against Akwa United came just three days after Enyimba’s penalty shootout victory over Rivers United in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Yes, most teams in the NPFL play weekends and midweek, but a high-power continental game with arguably a lot more on the line takes a bit more out of the players, especially emotionally.
With Enyimba now set to play six round-robin matches in the Confederation Cup, including trips to Algeria, Libya and South Africa, Fatai Osho’s men have got a tough balancing act to perform as they juggle their quests for domestic and continental glory.
If Enyimba do not find that balance, there are quite a few teams that are very capable of taking advantage.
Kano Pillars currently sit on top of the table and definitely know how to manage a title challenge, while Rangers International, in fifth, are only three points off the lead.
Like Pillars, seven-time champions, Rangers are also traditional superpowers in Nigeria, and will have their sights set on regaining a title they last won in 2016.
Also, look out for Rivers United, who are now out of the continent, and can fully focus on the NPFL. Rivers are five points behind leaders Pillars, with two games in hand.
The Nigeria Professional Football League has traditionally been very unpredictable, and this year is no different. These are exciting times for NPFL fans.
Unfortunately, fans are not allowed at match venues at the moment, but we can stream the matches via the NPFL’s streaming service.
Adding to the excitement is the fact that we can now bet on NPFL matches online. The very best betting sites in Nigeria all have the Nigerian league in their portfolios.
At the other end of the table are Adamawa United, who have managed a miserly three points from 11 matches. They are 10 points from safety and barring a monumental reversal of fortunes, they will be playing in Nigerian National League next season. Adamawa United are winless, and have scored just three goals all season. That’s proper relegation form.
So much was expected from teams like Plateau United and Abia Warriors, but they haven’t really got going this season and are loitering in the bottom half of the table. The great news for these clubs is that there is still time to rectify their season and get their campaigns back on track.
As is always the case with the NPFL, two or three wins on the bounce can do wonders to a team’s league position.
For now, Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Rivers United and Rangers are looking like the main contenders. They have the squad and know-how to put together a title bid.
RSG Restates Commitment To Youth Dev Via Sports
The Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on School Sports, Chief Aribitonye Okiri, has said that the state government-led by Chief Nyesom Wike, is committed to develop youths in the State through sports.
He stated that it is not in doubt that the State has hidden talents at the grassroots that are yet to be discovered.
Chief Okiri, said this at the finals of the National School Sports Competition held at Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports Complex in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday.
According to him, Governor Wike is poised to reach out to young ones in all the local government areas, in the state and engage them with sporting activities in a bid to discover hidden talents.
“As I speak, the governor has reiterated his desire to reach out to the children in all parts of the state and unearth their talents through engagement in sports, believing that all Rivers children are talented” Chief Okiri said.
Also speaking, the second Vice President of Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Pastor Emmanuel Ebong, thanked Governor Wike, for proving a worthy partner of NSSF and appeal to other corporate organisations to emulate Nigeria Breweries Ltd in partnering NSSF in sports development.
At the end of the final competition, Community Secondary School, Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area, dominated the medal table.
24 States Set For Lagos Athletics Championship
The Lagos State Athletics Association has confirmed the entry of 24 states and some clubs for its lucrative Athletics Meet fixed for Thursday, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Yussuf Alli who is the Meet Director for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship made the disclosure at the weekend even as he hinted a few other states may still join the already confirmed 24 states and clubs.
He said: “Yes, we are very much on track for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship which will be coming up this Thursday.
“Right now, we already have 24 states and some top racing clubs that have confirmed their participation, a few more may join before we close the window.”
The Lagos Open Athletics Championship is a one-day meet simultaneously serving as another qualifying window for the Tokyo Olympics as well as a preparatory event for athletes that have already qualified for the sporting showpiece.
In the past days, Lagos has been a beehive of activities with the National trials at the Yaba College of Technology Sporting complex and now the train is moving to the heart of the city in Surulere as the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics continues to gather momentum.
The list of events to be competed for at the Lagos Open Athletics Championship includes the 5,000 meters, 400 meters hurdles, 100 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters, and 100 meters.
There would also be top-quality action across the relay events including; the 4×100 meters open, 4×100 meters open and 4×400 meters mixed relay.
Long jump, High jump, Triple jump, Shot put as well as 4×100 secondary schools relay and 4×100 secondary schools relay have all been penciled down for the maiden Lagos Open Athletics Championship.
Already, the top three finishers across all the events have been assured mouthwatering prizes by the organisers.
Okagbare Sets New Record At Olympic Trials
Blessing Okagbare will be heading to Tokyo Olympics in the best form of her life after running the second fastest time in the world this season.
The 32-year-old ran 10.63 seconds to win the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Olympic Trials at the Sports Complex of Yaba College of Technology in Lagos on Thursday.
The 10.63 seconds time saw her tie with Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’ best time in 2021 ahead of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Okagbare ran 10.99 seconds in the semifinal of the event to set a new championship record , and before clocking 10.63 seconds in the final to set a new record. The scorching 10.63 time is also a new African record. Only Florence Griffith Joyner who holds the world record at 10.49 seconds has run faster. The Nigerian has now emerged one of the favourites for the 100m gold at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who first ran 10.63 seconds this season.
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