NPFL Round 22 Group B review
Clubs from Groups A and B played their last matches of the regular Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) season on Sunday. Top teams battled for the playoff spot while others fought to avoid relegation.
Already relegated Yobe Stars welcomed Nasarawa at the Town Stadium in Damaturu. The visitors were hoping to make the playoffs with a win, providing other results went their way. Twelve minutes from kick-off, they were awarded a penalty which Ibrahim Sunusi converted into a goal.
The same player scored again in the 40th minute to double the lead for Nasarawa. Adamu Shuaibu scored for Yobe Stars in the dying minutes of the first half to make it 1:2 at the break. Since there were no goals in the second half, this turned out to be the final score.
Nasarawa needed FC Ifeanyi Ubah to lose in order to get that third spot in the table but since they won, Lafia faithful had to settle for 4th place.
The leaders of the pack Akwa United travelled to Nnewi to take on FC Ifeanyi Ubah at their International Stadium. The hosts started strong and scored the only goal of the first half in the 31st minute, courtesy of Alakwe Chijioke.
Late in the second half, the home team went 2:0 up when Christian Nnaji scored in the 79th minute. Ocheme Edoh netted a goal for the visitors three minutes from the end but it was too late for a comeback.
The win secured FC Ifeanyi Ubah a place in the NPFL playoffs. Akwa United stayed at the top by a single point, even though they haven’t won in the last three rounds of the season.
Heartland played hosts to El-Kanemi Warriors at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri. Before kick-off, the visitors were in fifth place while Heartland were in the drop zone. Both teams needed to win but it was the home team who prevailed in the end.
Nwaodu Chukwudi scored for Heartland in the first half to open the scoring. The Warriors couldn’t find a way back and ended up giving away a penalty in the 82nd minute of the game. Uche Oguchi took the responsibility and put the ball in the net for the final score of 2:0.
This surprising win means Heartland will play in the NPFL next year while El-Kanemi Warriors have been relegated.
Level on points before the match, both Go Round and Gombe needed a huge win to have any chance of staying up. And they needed the teams above them to lose badly. But that was too much to hope for.
Gombe won the encounter with a single goal from Adamu Mohammed but it didn’t matter in the end. Both teams have been relegated.
Plateau United and Delta Force played out a goalless draw at the Town Stadium in Kaduna. A point a piece was enough for both to survive relegation. The home team finished level on points with Gombe and El-Kanemi Warriors but had superior goal difference. The visitors ended their season in 7th place.
Kano Pillars rested some players on their trip to Umuahia where they faced Abia Warriors. Salam Atilola opened the scoring for the hosts nine minutes into the game. Six minutes into the second half the home team had a chance to increase their lead from the penalty spot, but they missed.
However, a minute later the same player, Samson Bossa Obi, did manage to score doubling the lead for the Warriors. Isaac Emeka added a third on the 60-minute mark to make the final score 3:0. Kano Pillars finish the season in second place and will play in the playoffs. Abia Warriors end up in fifth place without a loss in the last five matches.
Akwa United, Kano Pillars and FC Ifeanyi Ubah will contest the playoffs while Yobe Stars, Go Round, El-Kanemi Warriors and Gombe were relegated.