NPFL Will Kick-Off December 27th, Says Sports Minister Dare

A file of NPFL logo.


The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is set to kick-off on the 27th of December, 2020, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has said. 

Dare disclosed this at a press briefing at the National Stadium in Lagos on Friday, calming nerves over the resumption of the Nigerian league which has been on a break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister dismissed insinuations that the country’s football is dead but admitted that interest in Nigerian football has waned over the years.

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He noted that aside from the pandemic which has claimed thousands of lives across the globe, the football league in the West African country has not resumed due to issues with the organisers.

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According to him, the ministry will be meeting with the NPFL and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to fine-tune plans for the restart of football in the country. Clubs, he further mentioned, will be assessed for their readiness to resume action, stressing that the league will resume with the teams that are ready.

Sports enthusiasts had linked the poor outing of Nigerian teams in the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations Cup to the halting of the league.

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Both Plateau United and Kano Pillars recently crashed out of the Champions League and the Confederations Cup respectively, heightening calls for the resumption of the domestic league.

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick had on March 19th, 2020 announced the closure of football activities in Nigeria, citing the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the nation (five as of then).

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Controversies Trail Appointment Of New Heartland FC Technical Adviser

Controversies Trail Appointment Of New Heartland FC Technical AdviserControversies have continued to trail the recent appointment of the new Technical Adviser of Heartland FC Owerri, Coach Emmanuel Deutsch.

The chairman of Heartland Football Club, Mr Goodfaith Etuemena, says the appointment of Deutsch was done without his knowledge and the appointment did not also follow due process.

He insisted that appointment of a new technical adviser is uncalled for and unwarranted as the club still has a standing head coach in Mr Ramson Madu.

He argued that the club’s self-acclaimed supervisor, in person of the Deputy Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr Ugonna Ozuruigbo, has no power to unveil a coach without his knowledge.

He said that since the club went on relegation last season, the management has been doing everything possible to ensure that the club bounces back stronger and with the new development, Heartland FC might be seeing a big setback especially with the role of the supervisor who is trying to usurp the office of the Chairman of Heartland.

“Whatever my supervisor is doing, I wasn’t informed. Nobody informed me. I don’t think we need a technical adviser now (because) we already have one in the person of Coach Ramson Madu, and he’s comfortable.

“If we need a technical adviser, it is something we have to sit down and discuss, considering the state of the club at the moment.

“I’m trying to make sure we succeed. We are doing all we can to ensure we get back to premiership, (and) we have started screening and it’s been successful, so I don’t know where the appointment of new technical adviser comes in,” Etuemena said.

Heartland Football Club finished 18th in the just concluded season making the club go on relegation for the first time since its creation.

NPFL: Rangers Extend Lead, Ikorodu United’s Struggle Continues

NPFLMatchday nine of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) produced 21 goals (2.1 goals per game), six home wins, three draws and one away victory.

Enugu Rangers consolidated their lead on top of the league table to two points with a hard fought 2-1 win against oriental rivals Enyimba FC of Aba.

Joseph Osadiaye got the champions in front in the 14th minute, when he curled in Ikechukwu Ibenegbu’s lofty pass from the edge of the area. Godwin Aguda levelled terms for the Flying Antelopes in the 21st minute from a Bobby Clement assist. Clement again turned provider for Chisom Egubuchulam, who finished it with a fine goal eight minutes to the break.

In Owerri, Heartland FC saw off a difficult Giwa FC challenge with a 2-0 win, which saw Roland Koffi smashing home a cracker at the death.

Shagari Mohammed was the hero in Kano, providing assists for Prince Aggreh and Suleman Usman to slot in the goals in the 28th and 47th minutes respectively. Pillars move into second place on the log.

In Jos, MFM FC played 1-1 away to Plateau United. The result increases pressure on head coach, Zachary Baraje, who has been asked to spring results or face the music.

Federation Cup champions, Akwa United, held Wikki Tourists to a barren draw at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, despite being without their technical adviser, Maurice Cooreman, who failed to travel with the team due to illness. The home side will have Godwin Obaje to blame for failing to convert outright opportunities in the opening half.

In Akure, Tope Orelope’s equalizer in the 63rd minute, appeared to have secured a point for Shooting Stars, but that was not the outcome, as the Akure Gunners snatched a late winner through Okiki Afolabi. Dele Olorundare also had a goal to his name in the sixth minute.

Elsewhere, Abia Warriors grabbed a narrow 1-0 win at home to Niger Tornadoes, at the Umuahia Township Stadium through Chisom Chikatara’s late goal. Ladan Bosso’s El-Kanemi side thrashed Nasarawa United 3-0 in Katsina, while Warri Wolves drew goalless with visiting Lobi Stars at the Warrior Township Stadium.

Rivers United appear to have finally found their rhythm, edging newcomers Ikorodu United in a five-goal thriller at the Onikan Waterfront.

Guy Kuemian got the visitors in front, in the ninth minute before the home side levelled terms through Ifegwu Ojukwu just before the quarter of an hour mark. Nonso Okonkwo and Wilson Andoh put the game beyond the Lagos side before the break, with stunning goals.

Ikorodu United’s late chase only aided them to reduce the deficit through Ojukwu, before end of proceedings. But Ojukwu’s brace proved too little to help them avoid a fifth defeat on the bounce as they drop to second from bottom.

After the game, new technical adviser, Sam Okpodu described the team as young and inexperienced.

”This team has a lot of learning to do and with time they will understand themselves and start getting the desired results” he concluded.

NPFL Match Day 2: Enyimba, Nasarawa and Akwa Matches Rescheduled

EnyimbaMatch Day 2 fixtures involving three clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) have been rescheduled and will now be played on March 16, 2016.

The fixtures are Akwa United versus Ikorodu United, Enyimba International versus Shooting Stars and FC Ifeanyi Ubah vs Nasarawa United.

Chief Operating Officer of the League Management Company, Salihu Abubakar, explained that the Match Day 2 fixtures have been postponed because the clubs will be involved in continental competitions. Match Day 3 fixtures involving the three clubs will accordingly be played on March 23, 2016.

“The clubs were already not in the Match Day 3 fixtures due to their continental fixtures holding on the weekend of February 26-28 but we have received representations from officials of the three clubs pleading to be allowed to focus on their continental fixtures”, Abubakar explained.

Nasarawa United are already billed to leave for Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday for the second leg of their CAF Confederation Cup tie against AS Academie Demonstration Foot. The first leg ended with the Lafia side in a narrow 2-1 win.

Enyimba International will host Vipers of Uganda in the second leg of the CAF Champions League after losing the first leg 1-0 in Kampala. The match will hold at the Adokie Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.

Akwa United will also play their second leg tie of the CAF Confederations Cup against Vita Club de Mokanda of Congo.

Abubakar said the adjustment in fixtures will not affect other clubs whose games will be played this Wednesday as previously scheduled.

Match Day 1 of the Nigeria Professional Football League recorded 17 goals, four away victories, three draws and three home wins.

Goal Nigeria Player Award Nomination Excites Udoh

Goal NigeriaMfon Udoh is over this world given the inclusion of the his name on short-list for the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year Award for 2014 in recognition of his impressive performances for Enyimba.

He set a new and an all-time goal record of 23 in a season surpassing the previous 21, and scored his 26th goal of the season to help the Nazi Millionaires retain the Federation Cup title and scored 41 goals in two successive league seasons with two different clubs (Akwa united and now Enyimba).

The Nigerian league star would have to slug it out with four foreign-based stars – Vincent Enyeama, Ahmed Musa,, Obafemi Martins and Ikechukwu Uche for the third edition of the award.

The award was won by Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi in 2012 and 2013.

While appreciating the support from his teammates, coaches and fans, the former Akwa United forward admitted he never dreamt of achieving so much as a player in a league season.

“Wow! I’m excited being nominated from the domestic league for the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year award. I’m very happy being listed and contesting among great players for the best Nigerian player in 2014. I’m really happy for the recognition,” Udoh told Goal.

“Well, I must tell you that in my last game of the season in the Federation Cup final against Dolphins, I was dancing all sorts of dances to show how excited I was because the season was so amazing for me.

“Honestly, I never believed I could have a great impact like that last season. It was a great season for me and my career.

“I want to give kudos to my coaches, team-mates and fans around the world for encouraging me by their support and prayers to help me achieve so much this season.'”

The 22-year-old lauded the football site for giving consideration to the domestic league players to make the list of nominees for the coveted award.

“I will say big kudos to Goal for recognizing a local player in our local league and in a local team. At least giving reports of activities of what is happening in our domestic league which shows something good is happening here,” he concluded.

Udoh follows in the foot steps of former Kano Pillars midfielder, Reuben Gabriel and former Sunshine Stars captain and defender, Godfrey Oboabona, players from the Nigerian league that have been nominated for the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year award.

Solution To Nigerian Football Crisis Is Government’s Withdrawal – Tijani

Nigerian FootballVeteran Sports Journalist, Kayode Tijani, says the solution to the crisis that has continued to rock Nigerian Football and its administration is for the Nigerian Government to embrace total withdrawal from Nigerian football.

Speaking on the Friday edition of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, Tijani said that the reason why the National Sports Commission, NSC, would always want to lord it over the Nigerian Football Federation is because there is so much money in the federation being put in by the government.

Nigeria escaped yet another FIFA ban as it beat the deadline set by the world football governing body for it to resolve the leadership tussle it has been embroiled with, although some Nigerians have frowned at FIFA’s seeming disregard for Nigerian laws and administrative peculiarities.

This view, Tijani disagreed with, saying that Nigeria having agreed to belong to FIFA had agreed to abide by the rules of the body.

“A lot of people are getting it wrong. Germany, during the first war and the second war left FIFA because to FIFA ‘you can’ t be here because of all your problems’. The same thing happened to South Africa, even England at a time (when) they had some disagreement.”

He, however, also took a swipe at FIFA because of their many threats, “I am not saying FIFA is this squeaky clean (organisation), they are not.

“FIFA is one of the most corrupt organisations in the world but when they do their thing they do it very well.

“So for me, it is the (Nigerian) Government’s problem from time immemorial. The Act for the NFF has been there for the past eight years, why don’t you pass it to solve all these problems?”

A ban by FIFA would ensure that Nigeria loses the opportunity to appear at international football competitions both at club and country level and Tijani believes this would not have been a loss but would rather ensure that monies are not wasted.

Local League Development

While Tijani expressed happiness that the country was able to resolve its issues, he noted that the fear of being banned by FIFA should not be Nigerians’ concern but how to develop the game within the country.

He noted that the Nigerian league should be more important to Nigeria and not the fear of losing spots at FIFA’s international competitions.

He highlighted a number of factors militating against the growth of Nigerian football leagues as well as the challenges Nigerian clubs were facing, including the situation whereby several players were not being paid their salaries.

Kayode mentioned some European leagues, as well as the South-African league as examples of places where governments have no hand in the management of their leagues.

“In Germany, the only involvement of government is infrastructure,” he said, maintaining his earlier stance that the Federal Government of Nigeria has to withdraw its direct involvement with the management and funding of the game.

Super Eagles

Tijani also had some words for the players and handlers of the Super Eagles as Nigerians look forward to the team’s next African Cup of Nations qualifier.

“Are we going to win? I don’t know. Stephen Keshi to me is a hero, he’s done so much but…why holding us to ransom with players who are not going to perform? The likes of Mikel, I don’t know why.

“Muda Lawal in midfield? Mikel? I can never compare a Mikel or some of these players who are holding us to ransom.

“I was in Sudan with them, they were talking about playing on synthetic (pitch), I am in shock! Rashidi Yekini scored in Sudan in 1993 and that was not even a pitch!” he said passionately.

Nigerian league needs to grow for national teams to progress – Analyst

A sport journalist, Kayode Tijani on Monday said that the Nigerian league would need to grow before the national teams will begin to make significant progress.

Mr Tijani, who speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily against the backdrop of Super Eagle’s trashing of the lone stars of Liberia 6-1 on Saturday, said presently the Nigerian league is nothing to write about.

“Without the leagues in Nigeria growing, we are just wasting our time,” he said.

“The league in Nigeria is nothing. The players are owed, no single player is on contract, no single coach is on contract; signing on fees, they don’t get it until the end of the season, the players are on ridiculous salaries, no insurance, nothing,” Mr Tijani said.