Former champions, Enyimba, Pillars take centre stage as Akwa United meets FC IfeanyiUbah

Akwa United’s Alberico Da Silva (left), Effiong Ndifreke and Dadzie Kodjovi trying to impose their game on Kano Pillars on matchday one of the NPFL Play-off. The competition continues at the Agege Stadium…today.

Rangers seek redemption against Lobi Stars
Today promises another exciting round of games at the Agege Stadium, where the country’s best clubs are gathered to settle the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) title question. It is the NPFL Super Six Play-off, which is designed to determine the winners of the 2018/2019 league season.

On the turf are former champions, Enyimba, Lobi Stars, Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers, as well as the ambitious Akwa United and FC IfeanyiUbah. The teams play three games every matchday with the first match starting by 3.00 p.m.On matchday One (Tuesday), Enyimba began the proceedings with a 1-0 defeat of Enugu Rangers, while Kano Pillars were held to a 2-2 draw by Akwa United. Lobi Stars are on top of the table following their 3-1 defeat of FC IfeanyiUbah and so in essence, today’s matches hold a lot for both the successful teams on the opening day and the losers.

The first game of the day will see Akwa United trying to get their first three points of the campaign to remain in contention for their first league title. The Uyo team will meet FC IfeanyiUbah, who will want to win this game to bounce back from their opening day loss to Lobi Stars.

Akwa United’s Coach, Rafael Everton believes his team can win this championship if the players rose to the occasion.He said, “We have six top teams that all have one target, which is to win the Super Six. We can’t say that we had a bad start even though we were expected to beat Pillars from the results we got against them in the regular season.

“We are not bothered by the draw but we have started preparations for our next game with FC IfeanyiUbah with the hope of getting our first win. We are going to improve in our next game.”Table toppers, Lobi Stars have a great chance of consolidating on their lead when they meet Enugu Rangers in the second game of the day.

The Makurdi team, led by Evans Ogenyi, say their mission in Lagos is to win the right to return to the CAF Champions League after their unimpressive outing this season. Ogenyi told the media after Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat of FC IfeanyiUbah that his boys were primed for the battles despite the quality of the opposing teams.

“You know we just came back from the continent, even though it is unfortunate that we couldn’t go beyond the group stage. But then, we have been able to restore Nigeria’s second slot in the CAF competitions and the experience was valuable,” Ogenyi said.

The second game is a crucial encounter for both Enugu Rangers and neighbours, FC IfeanyiUbah, as one of them must win to remain in contention for the title or at worst a continental ticket.Rangers Coach, Gbenga Ogunbote has assured supporters of the Flying Antelopes that they have put the 0-1 loss to Enyimba behind them.

“We are here for a tournament of five games but have lost one already. We have worked hard to remedy observed weaknesses so we can remain in contention for the title and a continental ticket.“Yes, I want to win the title but the defeat hasn’t put me under any negative pressure but is rather a motivation.”

The last game of the day pits Enyimba against Kano Pillars from 7.00 p.m.A win for Enyimba will take them to six points, just as a Kano Pillars’ victory will take the 2012 champions to four points and in a strong position to challenge for the crown.

The Guardian