Contenders, pretenders throw last dice on NPFL Play-Off final day
Nothing is already sorted as five out of the six teams in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) Super Six Play-off have one thing or the other to play for.For Enyimba and Kano Pillars, it is the battle for the league crown, while Akwa United, Enugu Rangers and Lobi Stars are all eyeing the lone CAF Confederation Cup ticket on offer. Akwa United still have a slim chance of winning the title, but that can only happen if they beat Enyimba today and hope that Lobi Stars defeat Kano Pillars.
The venue, Agege Stadium is poised for a grand ending to a fantastic championship, which despite the unfortunate fans trouble on Monday has shown the best there is in Nigerian club football.Seven-time champions, Enyimba of Aba have already secured a continental ticket and will take the NPFL crown if they beat Akwa United today. The Peoples Elephant top the table on nine points, one higher than Kano Pillars, while Akwa United, Rangers, Lobi Stars and FC IfeanyiUbah have six, five, four and zero points respectively.
Enyimba will play in the CAF Champions League next season if they draw with Akwa United, but they may be pushed down to the Confederation Cup if they lost to the Uyo boys by more than one goal.Former Enyimba star, Mfon Udoh, whose 10 goals in the regular season earned him the joint highest scorer award, is likely to start his first game of the competition against the club he captained for several years after playing from the bench in previous games.
Looking forward to a tough but successful outing today, Akwa United’s Coach Everton said: “We will continue to believe. We came here to work and we will continue to believe that we will win the league. It is (going to be) a difficult game, it is a derby but we’ve not lost in all the games we have played so we will start planning to win the last game.”
Although they are the only unbeaten side in the competition, Pillars have struggled in their last two games since that victory over Enyimba on matchday two.
Against a Lobi Stars side desperate for a return to the continent, the Sai Masu Gida must be at their best to get the result that would guarantee them a continental ticket. They also know that victory could get them the trophy if Enyimba faltered against Akwa United.
Enugu Rangers have the easiest game on paper as their opponents, FC IfeanyiUbah have generously donated points to their previous opponents. A massive win today and a possible loss by Kano Pillars would take Gbenga Ogunbote’s team to the continent. That is if Akwa United failed to beat Enyimba.
To ensure that fans are safe while savouring the best of Nigerian football, the LMC and Lagos State FA have promised a good security arrangement in and around the stadium. The first match kicks off by 3.00 p.m.