✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

Invincible Insurance stake unbeaten run as 2023 NPFL resumes

After a mid-season break which started on February 18, the second stanza of the 2022/2023 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), abridged season is set to…

After a mid-season break which started on February 18, the second stanza of the 2022/2023 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), abridged season is set to resume this weekend across match venues in the country.

Although the 20 participating clubs had recorded contrasting results in the first stanza, Bendel Insurance emerged the best among them having played nine matches in Group A without a loss.

Therefore, the week 10 clash between unbeaten Insurance and former African champions, Enyimba, signposts the weekend duels and Trust Sports previews the matches as they will unfold today and tomorrow.

As stated earlier, in Group A, returnees Bendel Insurance have proved to be the surprise package as they top the group with 23 points from 9 matches.

Flying Eagles’ Bameyi, Aniagboso, invited to Super Eagles camp

Asake, Ayra Starr, Kizz Daniel nominated for 2023 VGMAs

It will be recalled that since the Coach Monday Odigie tutored side stunned former champions, Akwa United 2-0 on the opening day of the season, they have not looked back.

Today, the 2023 Edo State Federation Cup champions will attempt to do the double over Enyimba whom they defeated by a lone goal in the first leg. Both sides have met 5 times with Bendel having a better head-to-head record with 2 wins.

On Sunday, Akwa United who defeated second-division side FC One Rocket 4-1 to retain the Akwa Ibom State FA Cup on Monday will welcome Shooting Stars to the ‘Nest of Champions.’

The first leg ended 2-2 in Ibadan but the 2021 champions will attempt to use the home advantage to further increase their better head-to-head record.

It will also be a battle of relegation-threatened clubs when Kwara United host El-Kanemi Warriors at their adopted home ground in Akure. The ‘Afonje Warriors’ ran away with a slim 2-1 win in the first leg and they will push to make it four wins in total against the two-time FA Cup winners.

In Jos, Plateau United who have had an indifferent season prior to the break and are fourth on Group A table will play host to Gombe United. The 2017 champions had lost 3-2 to the visitors in the first leg and expectations are that they will seek to take back their pound of flesh from the ‘Desert Scorpions.’

On their part, Remo Stars who started the season with a lot of promises before they began to falter have the chance to revive their season when Nasarawa United come visiting.

The Ikenne-based club had lost 2-0 to the ‘Solid Miners’ in the first leg and a loss again will not help their cause to once again play continental football.

It will be recalled that Nasarawa United recently unveiled eight new players ahead of the resumption and will also want to prove that their poor start to the season was a fluke.

Of the total 180 goals scored in the first stanza, teams in Group A have netted 96 times from 45 matches played within the period under review.

Meanwhile, in Group B, Lobi Stars of Makurdi are leading the table with 19 points from nine matches and will want to maintain the lead when they travel to play Doma United at the Pantami stadium in Gombe.

Doma United nicknamed the ‘Savannah Tigers’ have fared well in their debut appearance in the Nigerian top flight despite losing 2-0 to Lobi Stars in their first ever clash which was also their last match of the first round.

Interestingly, second-placed Rivers United have also closed the gap on leaders Lobi Stars to one point after the reigning champions defeated Enugu Rangers 1-0 in a rescheduled week nine tie to round up the first stanza.

The title holders will welcome local rivals Abia Warriors whom they drew 0-0 in the first leg. Both teams have played 16 times with Warriors having the upper hand with 5 wins and seven draws.

Elsewhere in Group B, Enugu Rangers who have a paltry nine points in nine matches will seek to revive their season when they host Federation Cup holders, Bayelsa United in Nnewi.

Both teams who have had a poor season played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg. According to the statistics, they have played 13 times with each side recording three wins and seven draws.

Bottom-placed Dakkada with only one win before the break will move out of relegation waters, if they win against equally troubled Niger Tornadoes. When the two sides met in the first stanza, Tornadoes who are presently in 5th position won 1-0.

In Bauchi, embattled Wikki Tourists will try to dim third-placed Sunshine Stars who want a return to continental football. The Akure-based club had won the first leg by a lone goal to maintain their supremacy over the ‘Bauchi elephants.’

Meanwhile, Enyimba’s Chukwuemeka Obioma leads the goal scoring chart in Group A, with seven goals in nine matches. In Group B, Bayelsa United’s Robert Mizode Christian leads with six goals in nine.

Interestingly, Obioma won the NPFL Player of the Month award for February, while Bendel Insurance head coach, Monday Odigie won the Coach of the Month award.

As the second stanza is set to begin, the Interim Management Company (IMC), have added a caveat providing for fixture changes when necessary to accommodate Club Licensing decisions, television broadcast schedules and CAF Inter-club fixtures.

Speaking on what to expect as the season resumes, the IMC Chairman, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, said “We, first of all, want to commend the clubs and their players for a near-perfect first stanza of the season and for the rest of the season, the highest standards of excellence in quality of play and adherence to the rules is required”.

He assured the clubs of fairness on match officiating and the application of the rules by the IMC to ensure that the best clubs emerge for the play-off.

“Our commitment to fairness on and off the field of play is even reinforced by our determination to have only the very best clubs qualifying for the play-off at the end of the season”, Elegbeleye assured and tasked the clubs to provide value for fans through improved standard of play.

While also commending fans for staying loyal to their clubs and interest in the NPFL, the IMC Chairman urged them to always exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship and eschew tendencies that will bring the game to disrepute.

%d bloggers like this: