NPFL Round 22 Group A review
This Sunday was the last match day of the regular Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) season with teams fighting for the playoffs and some fighting to avoid relegation.
After losing to Lobi Stars in the last round, Wikki Tourist needed a win against the Group A leaders Enugu Rangers to stay in the NPFL next year. The game was played at the Abubarkar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi.
Two-thirds of the match went by without any clear-cut chances. But, in the 61st minute, Manu Garba was through on goal to score the only goal of the encounter. And it was a winning goal for the home team, who pulled out an incredible win to stay up.
Wikki Tourist finish 7th in the table while Enugu Rangers keep the top spot, five points ahead of the second placed team.
Dayo Ojo scored a hat trick for Sunshine Stars in a big win over MFM at the Town Stadium in Akuru. His two opening goals were penalties, in the 18th and the 25th minute. The visitors pulled a goal back five minutes later through Alade Balogun. However, right before the break, Anthony Omaka added the third for the home team to end the first half 3:1 up.
Early in the second half Chijioke Akuneto scored another goal for MFM to give this game a nervy ending. In the end, the hosts held out and sealed the win on the 90-minute mark with Ojo’s third goal of the game.
The loss meant that MFM finished in 4th place, one place shy of the playoffs. The win for Sunshine Stars saved them from relegation, putting them a single point above the drop zone.
Rivers United welcomed Bendel Insurance at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt. Bendel needed a win for a chance to survive but they couldn’t score against the home team. The hosts needed a penalty to secure a win. It was Konan Ruffin who successfully converted the penalty kick in the 71st minute.
The home team finishes 5th in the table while Bendel Insurance are relegated from 9th place.
Relegated Remo Stars and Lobi Stars played out a goalless draw at the Gateway International Stadium in Sagamu. The visitors finish the regular part of the season in 2nd place and will be in the playoffs for a chance to defend the 2018 title.
Kwara United went to Lokoja to play Niger Tornadoes with both teams practically already relegated. There was a mathematical chance for Kwara United to stay up on account of goal difference but both Sunshine Stars and Wikki Tourist won making it a moot point.
The visitors won with a single goal scored by Nasiru Afeez in the first half. The hosts finish second from last with Kwara United right above them.
Enyimba have booked their place in the playoffs even though they lost to Katsina United in the last round. They were lucky as MFM too had lost against the Sunshine Stars. Katsina need to win to make sure they don’t go down.
The encounter started well for the home team with the referee awarding them a penalty in the 13th minute but Tasiu Lawal, their top scorer this season, missed it. Luckily, Matins Ebuka was on hand to provide the opened in the 35th minute, saving Lawal the blushes. It was 1:0 at halftime.
Lawal did manage to get himself on the score sheet doubling the lead for Katsina in the 65th minute. This was his 10th goal of the season. Enyimba did score a consolation goal in the first minute of stoppage time through Chinedu Udechukwu but it was just a consolation.
Still, they finish third and will play in the playoffs. Katsina United end the season in the middle of the table in 6th place.
Enugu Rangers, Lobi Stars and Enyimba will fight for the title in the playoffs, while Remo Stars, Niger Tornadoes, Kwara United and Bendel Insurance are relegated.
For the best odds on the upcoming NPFL playoff matches, visit Supabets online.