Defending champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Akwa United, have kicked off their title defence campaign with an impressive 3-0 victory over Kano Pillars in Uyo.
Opening day action against a decent Pillars team was the sort of test coach Kennedy Boboye was hoping to use in assessing if his team can continue the brilliant show they put up last season. And, oh yes, the champions showed class.
The first half was a cagey affair and just when the home fans thought there will be no celebration before the break, Ezekiel Bassey, broke the deadlock. The hosts took the lead into the break.
When action resumed, it didn’t take long before Stephen Chukwude opened his goal account for the Promise Keepers with a brilliant finish off Ubong Friday’s low cross.
In the 79th minute, the visitors had a chance to pull one back but Kokoette Udoh’s strike flashed across the face of goal and goes wide. That move reawakened the attacking prowess of the league champions. In the closing minutes of the match, Ubong Friday made a good run onto a long ball, dribbled Bassey Akpan cleverly, and finished calmly.
Good start to the 2021/2022 NPFL season for the Promise Keepers who showed their intent to defend the title they won in style last campaign.
Newly-promoted Remo Stars produced a stunning performance to beat MFM FC 2-0 at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos. This is the first league win for the Sky Blue Stars over the Olukoya Boys since 2017.
Akanni Qudus gave the visitors the lead in the 55th minute, and Andy Okpe with an easy tap in at goal placed the icing on the cake. New manager, Gbenga Ogunbote, praised his team for not respecting the hosts and wants the team to continue the season-opening form in the next home match against Heartland FC of Owerri.
Enugu Rangers also got their league campaign to a flying start with a 1-2 win over Katsina United. The Flying Antelopes gave new manager, Abdul Maikaba the sort of experience he needed to get things going.
Ossy Martins is still on fire. He continued his impressive league form to score a brace for the visitors. The former Lobi Stars man opened the scoring in the 13th minute, Saliu Mustapha, scored to level up for the hosts. In the 54th minute, Martins scored again to give Rangers a vital away victory.
Shooting Stars of Ibadan, also making a return to the top flight held another newcomer, Gombe United to secure a vital away point on the road.
Enyimba Football Club of Aba continued their dominant display in the Abia Derby with a 2-1 win over Abia Warriors.
The Peoples Elephant got the lead through Ekene Awazie’s goal in the 34th minute. Proceedings stayed that way till the second half when Paul Samson equalized for the visitors. Coach Finidi George made some useful changes to take control of the game and in the 77th minute, Chigozie Obasi, scored the winner.
Meanwhile, in Owerri, it was goals galore. Visiting Nasarawa United held Heartland FC to a 3-3 draw. Some familiar names in the goalscorers sheet include Chinedu Ohanachom and a brace by Otegbeyi Ajibola.
In Ilorin, Dakkada FC was no match for last season’s surprise package, Kwara United. Steven Jude’s brace and one from Junior Lokosa sealed a 3-0 win for the Harmony Boys who will be looking forward to repeating their impressive performance from the last campaign.
In Makurdi, Lobi Stars were held to a 1-1 draw by Rivers United, Niger Tornadoes beat Plateau United 1-0 while the game between Sunshine Stars and Wikki Tourists couldn’t hold because the Elephants failed to show up. The League Management Company (LMC) is yet to make an official statement on the situation
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