Following much speculation, we finally have a start date for the Nigeria football league (NNL). The Nigerian second tier will commence on Saturday 30th January, over one month later than the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).
The news of the 2020/21 season start dates comes following a decision from the league at their recent Annual General Meeting, which took place in the Ebonyi State Capital last week. Present at the meeting was Senator Obinna Joseph Ogba, who is the NNL Chairman and a member of the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Football Federation. Meanwhile, with the relevant draws having been made, we now know the groupings and schedule surrounding the 46 clubs involved.
Who Was Involved in the Decision Making Process?
It is understood that Dr Mohammed Sanusi, Secretary General of the Nigerian Football Federation, was represented by Dr Ayo Abdulrahaman during the meeting, who is Head of the AITEO Cup. Following the meeting, teams were told of their conference standing, as well as how matches at the beginning of the season will play out. The groupings in the Northern and Southern Conferences are the following:
Northern Conference (A1): El-Kanemi Warriors, EFCC FC, NAF FC, Oyah Sports FC, Rarara FC, Sokoto United FC, Aklosendi FC, Gombe United FC, Green Berets FC, Mighty Jets FC, FC Taraba
Northern Conference (A2): Niger Tornadoes FC, Road Safety FC, DMD FC, Malumfashi FC, Kebbi United FC, Yobe Desert Stars, Zamfara United FC, Kogi United FC, ABS FC, Real Stars FC
Southern Conference (B1): Go Round FC, Stores FC, 3SC, Dynamite FC, Delta Force FC, Nilayo FC, Nnewi United FC, Vandrezzer FC, Ekiti United FC, rovers FC, Giant Brillars FC, Akajobi FC
Southern Conference (B2): Bendel Insurance, Joy Cometh FC, Crown FC, J. Atete FC, Apex Krane FC, Remo Stars FC, Ibom Youth FC, FC One Rocket, Godosky FC, Bayelsa United FC, Abia Comets FC, Jossy FC, Gateway FC
Who are the Teams to Look Out for in 2021?
The number of teams involved in each conference has increased to nine, however the overall format has remained the same. Groupings have changed over the years, including in 2006, when winners of all four divisions were automatically promoted. Further adjustments were made ahead of the 2012/13 campaign, where the format returned to two divisions, each featuring 16 teams. Meanwhile, in 2015, the NNL was split into dour divisions of eight teams.
With the 2019/20 season having been cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, teams will be raring to go as they bid to reach their objectives for the upcoming campaign. So, just which clubs are set for big things in 2021? Kada City, Kwara, Shooting Stars and Bendel were leading their respective division at the time of the 2019/20 season being cancelled, with each being among the favourites this time around as a result.