As the curtains fall on the 2021 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season on Thursday, there will be serious jostling for the remaining two continental slots as the quartet of Nasarawa United, Kano Pillars, Rivers United and Enyimba battle opponents in the final round of matches.
Last Sunday, Akwa United defeated MFM of Lagos 5-2 to garner an unassailable 71 points from 37 matches to win their first-ever NPFL title.
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With one of the two CAF Champions League slots gone already, what is left for the chasing pack is one Champions League and a CAF Confederations Cup ticket from the league.
While second-placed Nasarawa United have 65 points and goal difference of plus 19, third-placed Kano Pillars have 64 points and goal difference of plus 10 just as Rivers United and Enyimba have 63 points but Rivers United are in the fourth position on superior goal difference of plus 13 against Enyimba’s paltry six.
Consequently, the week 38 matches are a must-win for each of the top four clubs that are on the hunt for continental tickets.
Even as Nasarawa United who have a massive goal difference of plus 19 are considered as favourites to win the remaining Champions League slot, defeat at Abia Warriors will leave them in a precarious position.
This is because, among Pillars, Rivers United and Enyimba, any can leapfrog them to the second position on the table, if they win their matches.
However, if Nasarawa win in Aba, then the trio of Pillars, Rivers United and Enyimba will be left to fight for one of the Confederations Cup tickets.
Kano Pillars are guests of Heartland in Okigwe, Enyimba will visit Dakkada in Uyo while relegation-threatened Sunshine Stars hosts Rivers United in Akure.
If Nasarawa United finish second and go on to win the Aiteo Cup on Sunday against Bayelsa United, the club that will finish fourth would take the remaining Confederations Cup ticket.