NPFL Review: 4 lessons from Matchday 4

Forty matches in fifteen days, the Nigeria Professional Football League is unrelenting in its desire to provide the best sporting experience to football fans.

Lobi Stars delivered three goals at the Aper Aku for the fans to revel in, Ifeanyiubah and Rivers could not find a goal between them while Remo look out of their depth, here’s four lessons we learnt from Wednesday’s fixtures;

Akwa United yet to gel under Maikaba

Akwa United came tumbling down from the heady heights of 2015 last year. After romping to an historic first major piece of silverware, winning the Federation Cup in a 2-1 defeat of Lobi Stars in Lagos coupled with a Super 4 triumph over Enyimba their fans could be excused for expecting more from Akwa last year, ironically the Promise Keepers as they’re called failed in that regard.


It’s been downhill for Akwa United since Fed Cup success in 2015

Knocked out in the first round in the CAF Confederations cup, quarterfinal in the Federation Cup and finishing 14th in the league just two points above Warri Wolves who were relegated, Akwa underwhelmed in 2016.

So it came as no surprise when they appointed Abdu Maikaba as manager. Maikaba’s Wikki Tourists spent the last two years punching above their weight and he seemed a perfect choice to take Akwa a step further. It hasn’t worked that way as yet, Akwa are bottom of the log, and while it’s early days yet there will be a feeling of discontent in Uyo.

Remo need to find their feet…quickly

It’s typical for promoted teams to be lurking around relegation at different times during the course of a season. The gap in quality between tiers takes some getting used to and that has been the case for Remo, coach Nduka Ugbade certainly knows it

You can see the difference between experience and inexperience. The Nasarawa United boys are bigger than my boys and they are more matured on the ball. Their movement on the ball made the difference. They were more goal oriented and direct. This is a team that is used to playing at the highest level. -Ugbade

While the Stars are doing well on the front foot, in defence they are struggling. No team has conceded more goals (7) than the Sky Blue Stars. It is that they will have to change, as a team making their top flight debut the importance of being compact at the back and difficult to break down cannot be over emphasized.

ABS loving life back in the ‘fast lane’

On the other end of the spectrum if promoted teams is Abubakar Bukola Saraki FC who have taken to a top tier return like ducks to water.

A  three nil defeat to Lobi Stars is a blow no doubt but they can be happy with their smart start. They’ve already defeated FC Ifeanyiubah and Akwa United while holding Niger Tornadoes to a draw away from home.

We are in the league to contest for the title, not to just play in it. We have good players, knowledgeable coaches, sound management and great fans. We are unbeaten in first three games, though the season is so young but we will keep the momentum. -Ajanna

That was centre back Chinedu Ajanna speaking to AfricanFootball before Wednesday’s loss, while the defeat will hurt it’s doubtful it will have done much to dampen spirits in Kwara.

PS: Club owner, Senator Bukola Saraki it seems is very much up for the challenge of this season.

Tight schedule taking its toll?

With eight teams failing to find a goal between them on match day it’s easy to ask if the 2-game weeks are beginning to take a toll on the players.

The League Management Company will no doubt have an eye on this, with some teams travelling long distances via road, the last thing we need is for players to begin pick up niggles or worse yet acquire a feeling of ennui.

Matchday 4 Results

Shooting Stars 1-1 MFM FC
Lobi Stars 3-0 ABS FC
FC Ifeanyiubah 0-0 Rivers United
Niger Tornadoes 2-0 Wikki Tourists
Akwa United 0-0 Rangers FC
El-Kanemi Warriors 1-0 Katsina United
Nasarawa United 3-1 Remo Stars
Abia Warriors 0-0 Enyimba
Gombe United 0-0 Plateau United
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Kano Pillars


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