NPFL 21: Kano Pillars Intensify Title Chase, Akwa Utd Earn Precious Away Point
Kano Pillars have reduced Akwa United’s lead at the top of the Nigeria Professional Football League table to just two points after beating Lobi Stars 3-0 at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on matchday 31.
Umar Hassan, who is returning to the starting line-up for the first time since the league’s first stanza, opened the scoring for the hosts. It’s Hassan’s second goal of the season. Sai Masu Gida took the 1-0 lead into the break.
Kano Pillars have been formidable at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium and they proved it when the second half commenced. Lobi Stars were just trying to get their rhythm when David Ebuka doubled the lead for Pillars with a header from a corner kick.
In the 63rd minute, charismatic captain, Rabiu Ali scored the third goal and his 12th of the season to seal victory for Coach Ibrahim Musa’s team who are finely placed now to compete for the league title.
Precious Points For Akwa Utd, Sunshine Stars
At the New Jos Stadium, league leaders showed good character to hold Plateau United to a goalless draw. The Promise Keepers will keep the precious point as they chase for the league title heats up.
Coach Abdul Maikaba’s team lost 3-1 to Rivers United on matchday 30 and were in desperate need of a win but his former team defended so well to stop them. The brilliant goalkeeping by Adewale Adeyinka also deserves commendation. In the 68th minute, Nasiru Jibril was booked for a late challenge, free-kick to the hosts. The dangerous free-kick was saved by goalkeeper Adeyinka. In the final minutes of the match, goalkeeper Adeyinka also produced a triple save to deny the hosts.
Sunshine Stars of Akure confirmed their determination to stay in the league with a hard-fought 0-1 win over Heartland FC at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri. Ifegwu Ojukwu’s gave the Akure Gunners the precious win and the second away victory of the season as they continue the fight to avoid relegation.
Another team fighting relegation, Warri Wolves, also put up a good show to consolidate on their good performance in Aba against Enyimba on matchday 30. The Wolves were so close to winning in Aba, a late goal by Austin Oladapo rescued a point for Enyimba.
Their matchday 31 fixture against Abia Warriors was a rush. Under 10 minutes, they scored two goals and held on to it to record their 8th win of the season. For Abia Warriors, things are going from bad to worse, the last time the Warriors won a match was on matchday 27, a 2-0 win over Lobi Stars. With today’s result, Abia Warriors have lost five matches in a row now.
At the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina, Katsina United continued their fine form with a 3-0 win over struggling FC Ifeanyi Ubah. This is the third win in a row for the Changi Boys who have been on fire since stopping Akwa United’s unbeaten run on matchday 29.
The hosts completed the job in the first half. Samuel Kalu opened the scoring in the 25th and got his brace in the 30th. Five minutes later, the in-form Joseph Atule sealed victory for the Katsina-based team. They now have 40 points and secured 12 victories so far. This is the 14th defeat of the season for FC Ifeanyi Ubah and the Anambra Warriors have now dropped into the relegation zone.
In Ilorin, Kwara United continued their home dominance with a 2-0 win over Rangers International Football Club. It was a cagey affair in the first half with both sides creating chances but failed to score.
FThe game was still till the 63rd minute when Kabiru Balogun found the back of the net to give the hosts the lead. With four minutes of regulation time remaining, Farayola Olawale doubled the lead with a classic goal for the Harmony Boys. They held on to record their 15th win of the season and still look good to compete for the league title.
In Bauchi, Wikki Tourists ended the 4-game unbeaten run of Dakkada FC with a 2-1 victory over the Uyo based team. Nazifi Yahaya and Ibrahim Sale scored the goals for the hosts to seal their 9th win of the season.
In Aba, Enyimba failed to win again. In their last game, they played 1-1 with Warri Wolves. Against Rivers United, it finished 1-1 again. Malachi Ohawuma gave the pride of Rivers the lead in the 33rd minute while Sadiq Abubakar equalized for the hosts in the second half. This is the 9th draw of the season for the People’s Elephant.
At the Pantami Stadium in Gombe, MFM FC of Lagos fought from a goal down to play 1-1 with Adamawa United. As early as 4 minutes into the game, Bolaji Michael’s goal gave the hosts the lead and it stayed that way till the 72nd minute when Izuchukwu Chimezie equalized for the Olukoya Boys.
On Monday, Nasarawa United, the highest goalscoring team in the league so far will host Jigawa Golden Stars in Lafia. The Solid Miners have gathered 52 points from 30 matches and if they win, they will return to second on the league table.
NIGERIA PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Matchday 31 Results
Kano Pillars 3 Lobi Stars 0
Plateau United 0 Akwa United 0
Heartland 0 Sunshine Stars 1
Warri Wolves 2 Abia Warriors 0
Katsina United 3 FC Ifeanyi Ubah 0
Kwara United 2 Rangers Int’l FC 0
Enyimba 1 Rivers United 1
Wikki Tourists 2 Dakkada FC 1
Adamawa United 1 MFM FC 1
Nasarawa United vs Jigawa Golden Stars