Enyimba FC played arguably their best football on the last day of the 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League season but they will have to wait to confirm their position on the table due to a late ruling by the Nigeria Football Federation Disciplinary Committee.
Just before the final day action, the committee made a decision on the pending case between Jigawa Golden Stars and Rivers United. They awarded three points and three goals to Rivers United who contested against the use of an ineligible player by the hosts on matchday 34.
The League Management Company (LMC) had earlier ruled that it was their administrative error but Rivers United didn’t accept it and had to protest.
The decision by the NFF Disciplinary Committee has opened another battle for the top position because either Enyimba or Kwara United will lose out of the top three. Drama!
Back to the final day action. Enyimba, Nasarawa United, Kano Pillars, Rivers United and even Kwara United were contending for the position on the final day of the season and it made it an intense battle for the ticket. In the end, the People’s Elephant clinched it after beating Dakkada FC 3-1 in Uyo. It’s their 5th away win of the season. The highest recorded by any team this season.
Under 25 minutes of play, the visitors were two goals up. They played purposeful football. The objective was clear and those early goals were important. Anayo Iwuala and Samad Kadiri scored the goals for coach Fatai Osho’s team. Four minutes after the second goal was scored, Musa Basiru pulled one back for the hosts.
Anayo Iwuala was busy and effective with the ball, causing all sorts of confusion in Dakkada’s defence line. He finally secured his brace in the 78th minute and that sealed victory for Enyimba and second position in the league with 66 points. Six points behind league champions, Akwa-United who lost 2-1 at Lobi Stars. Dakkada FC ended their campaign with 50 points and occupied the 11th position on the log.
Kano Pillars dropped to 5th position after losing 1-0 to Heartland FC of Owerri. Kelechi Chimezie’s goal made the difference. Sai Masu Gida had hopes of securing continental football but they missed it with just a point. They finished the campaign with 64 points while Heartland FC were placed 13th with 48 points.
In Makurdi, league champions, Akwa United received a guard of honour from Lobi Stars but got no love on the pitch as they lost 2-1. But the game meant everything for Charles Atshimene who scored from the spot in the 34th minute to register his 18th goal of the season. Chinonso Okonkwo and Austin Ogunye scored for coach Kabiru Dogo’s team to secure their 17th win and 8th position on the table.
In Enugu, Rangers International Football Club wrapped up their campaign with a 2-0 win over Plateau United to occupy 7th position. The Flying Antelopes had a decent season but coach Salisu Yusuf would have cherished a top-four finish.
Kwara United, surprise package of the season, ended their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win over Katsina United. Goals from Ayobami Mutiu, Michael Ohanu and Jude Stephen gave the Harmony Boys a grand finish. They didn’t lose a home game. Coach Abdullahi Biffo’s team won 19 matches, gathered 65 points and will wait to know if they will play continental football next season. Katsina United finished in 12 position with 49 points.
Nasarawa United had hopes of ending the season in second position but a 3-1 defeat to Abia Warriors knocked them to 4th on the log but tied on 65 points with Kwara United. The Solid miners also pulled some surprises this season; they played breathtaking football, scored 55 goals but couldn’t survive the pressure at the top. The Warriors were playing to secure their league status and approached the game with clear intentions of getting victory.
Man on fire Chukwuebuka Obioma opened scoring for the hosts as early as seven minutes into the match. Daniel Wotila doubled the lead just before half time while Fatai Abdullahi made it three in the closing minutes of added time. But Silas Nwankwo, who emerged the highest goalscorer this season with 18 goals, wrapped up his fantastic campaign scoring the only goal for the Solid Miners. Akwa United’s Charles Atshimene also scored 18 goals this season but the rule states that the player with the least number of goals scored from the penalty spot gets the award.
Abia Warriors suffered a devastating start to the season and didn’t record a win until matchday 8 (3rd February 2021), a 4-1 victory over Sunshine Stars at the Okigwe stadiums. It was real struggle for Coach Imama Amapakabo’s team to survive the drop. Towards the end of the season, they lost six games in a row but had to pick themselves back up to avoid relegation. With 47 points, The Warriors finished the season in 14th position.
Before the final day action, Adamawa United and FC Ifeanyi Ubah were already relegated. Two more teams will join them to leave the league. So, Sunshine Stars, Warri Wolves, Jigawa Golden Stars and Wikki Tourists engaged in a fierce battle for survival.
In Akure, Ejike Uzoenyi took his fine form to the last day of the season and scored a crucial goal that gave Sunshine Stars a 1-0 victory over Rivers United. It was a precious win for the hosts because it kept their league status. The Owena Whales had a difficult season, going 19 games without a win. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote had to quit the job. But the Akure Gunners found a way to turn it around and will hope a better performance next season.
After losing three points through the NFF Disciplinary Committee ruling and losing 2-0 to MFM FC, Jigawa Golden Stars got relegated. Oladayo Alabi and Izu Chimezie scored the goals that gave the Olukoya Boys a sweet end to their campaign. Coach Olalekan Gabriel’s team finished 10th with 51 points.
Warri Wolves lost 1-0 to relegated FC Ifeanyi to complete the relegation list. It has been a topsy-turvy season for the Wolves whose major objective was to stay in the top flight. Sadly, they have returned to where they came from.
Wikki Tourists avoided the drop with a 2-0 win over relegated Adamawa United. Goals from Hassan Musa and Yahaya Nazifi kept them in the safe zone.
NIGERIA PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE MATCHDAY 38 RESULTS
Dakkada FC 1 Enyimba FC 3
Heartland FC 1 Kano Pillars 0
Lobi Stars 2 Akwa United 1
Rangers Int’l FC 2 Plateau United 0
Kwara United 3 Katsina United 0
Abia Warriors 3 Nasarawa United 1
Sunshine Stars 1 Rivers United 0
MFM 2 Jigawa Golden Stars 0
FC Ifeanyi Ubah 1 Warri Wolves 0
Wikki Tourists 2 Adamawa United 0
FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Jigawa Golden Stars
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