Remo Stars, Enyimba and Sunshine Stars yesterday joined the trio of Bendel Insurance, Rivers United and Lobi Stars who had already qualified to feature in the 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Super 6 playoff next month but Wikki Tourists dropped down to the lower division of the Nigerian league.
It will be recalled that before the Match Day 18 fixtures, Insurance of Benin had qualified from Group A while Rivers United and Lobi Stars also booked their tickets in Group B with a match to spare.
However, former African champions, Enyimba, Remo Stars and Sunshine Stars had to wait till the end of week 18 matches to know their fate and they didn’t disappoint their teeming fans.
Sunshine Stars who needed a win to ward off the threat of Doma United walloped already relegated Dakkada United 3-0 in Akure to amass 27 points which was enough to hand them the last ticket in Group B.
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Abia Warriors who trounced ambitious Doma United 2-0 in Umuahia made the way smooth for the Sunshine Stars to qualify without much problems.
In Group A, Remo Stars who were at the risk of losing the ticket to Akwa United thumped Kwara United 4-0 to effectively checkmate the ‘Promise Keepers’ who won 1-0 away at Gombe United but still fell short of glory.
It was indeed a one-way traffic situation in Ikenne as Remo Stars scored all four goals in the first half of the match. Andy Okpe put the home side in front as early as the 6th minute. Three minutes later, Odunsi Sunday doubled the lead, before Odubia’s hat-trick in the 12th and 34th minute sealed the playoff ticket for the home side.
Although Enyimba could only manage a 0-0 draw at 3SC, they still finished second behind Insurance to complete the line-up of the teams that have qualified for the Super Six which is billed to commence on June 3 in Lagos.
At the Jos Township Stadium, visiting Wikki Tourists defeated Lobi Stars 2-0 but that was not enough to save them from relegation as Baylesa United who beat Niger Tornadoes 2-0 in Yenagoa swam to safety at their expense.
It was, therefore, mixed feelings for Wikki Tourists who won but have joined El-Kanemi Warriors, Nasarawa United and Dakkada FC in the Nigerian National League.
In other matches played yesterday, Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by Rivers United in Awka and Plateau United fought back to draw 2-2 with relegated El-Kanemi Warriors in Maiduguri.