NPFL WRAP: Four talking points from Matchday 35
Hat trick of Hat tricks
All hail the Panther! Anthony Okpotu really is one of the more consistent goal-getters in the NPFL with a guarantee of double figures. The striker got his third hat-trick of the season against El Kanemi extending his goals to 17 this season. Okpotu had score hat tricks in home games against Sunshine Stars and MFM FC. It took just 46 minutes to make it a hat-trick of hat tricks with the goals showing his range of abilities including spatial awareness, determination and a go(a)lden touch when in the box.
Okpotu faced with a defender, created an angle for a shot with smart footwork and placed his shot beautifully into the corner of the net for his first goal. His second was a case of being in the right place at the right time, he tapped in Solomon Kwambe’s cross at the far post after he was guilty of fumbling a chance minutes ago.
For the third, he latched onto a loose ball, saw the keeper off his line, shot past the keeper and the job was done. Hat Trick complete, record 68 goals for Lobi Stars and another N10,500 going to charity for his N3,500 per goal Score for charity programme.
Bloody Relegation Battle
Crazy is when a team as high as third in a League could still be relegated with three games to go, albeit mathematically. Realistically though that will be more towards the bottom half. With Remo Stars confirmed for relegation already and Gombe United at the door, the last two relegation slots are still up for grabs.
Rivers United in 11th with 48 points are just two points ahead of ABS in 18th place. ABS got an impressive 2-0 victory over league leaders Plateau United but are still rigged to the relegation zone, same as 17th placed Shooting Stars who got a victory over Nasarawa United. Both teams need to work extra hard if they are to escape relegation this season as two of their three ties are away from home.
Sylvanus Okpalla nigh complete escapist act
Enugu Rangers would have borne the ignominy of being relegated defending champions a là Bayelsa United in 2010. The acrimonious manner in which they part ways with their former Coach Imama Amakpakabo made headlines and Rangers seemed doomed. Relegation would have been termed poetic justice but for Sylvanus Okpalla’s escapist act. The former assistant coach of the Super Eagles has steadied the erstwhile tumult-laden ship and he has gotten Enugu Rangers into the top half of NPFL table with three matches to go. A win against relegated Remo Stars should complete his impressive ability at the helm.
Unchanged top seven
It was a tad unexciting in the top seven. All teams remained as they were regardless of their result over the weekend. Plateau United lost at Ilorin, MFMFC cut the point difference to three at the top of the table, Enyimba lost the opportunity to usurp Akwa United into CAF Confederations Cup places as both teams lost, FC Ifeanyi Ubah kept their Continental hopes alive, El Kanemi fell to Okpotu’s hat trick and Kano Pillars won. Meh!!!
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