As this second stanza of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL ) resume and teams returned from the short break, the excitement starts to build again in fans as to which of their respective team will be NPFL champions.
However, not all wishes work out like a beautiful marriage, NPFL can be a merciless league where last season’s achievements mean next-to- nothing and good form can flip in a moment. Enyimba, Kano Pillar and Ranger’s fortunes have entirely switched around but how do the teams fare in the first stanza?
In our latest article, Cheapgoals.com look at those [teams and players] who have so far failed to live up to the expectations of fan and neutrals alike.
After perceived improvement in the performances of the league’s referees in the previous season which led to the highest number of away wins in a single NPFL season, the match officials this season have walked hand in hand with controversies.
The first case of controversial refereeing this season came in the very first game between Kano pillars and Ifeanyi Ubah where ref, Mrs Folusho Ajayi disallowed a goal scored by the Anambra warriors which subsequently led to the game being abandoned at the hour mark. Other cases have been reported in other matches this season and football lovers can only hope things get better very soon.
■ Kano pillars
Sai masu Gidan are always considered as favourites every season alongside their arch-rivals Enyimba of Aba, but neither of the two has performed to expectations so far, Pillars are worse than the latter sitting at the 14th position with 24 points from 19 games.
Although 4 points separate them from Enyimba who sits 7th on the log, the inconsistencies from pillars further in the second half of the season may see them fail to appear in the continental tournament next season for the third season in a row, a bad return for the former champions.
■ Remo stars
Although the sky blue stars may be excused on the ground of being newbies in the league, the nature of their promotion from the NNL last season had raised hopes of fans for big results and performances from the Sagamu based team.
The team amassed an impressive 8 wins 4 draws and one loss in the division B1 of the NNL last season. They also had the best record for most wins and the least loss across the four division thereby sealing promotions with a match to spare.
However, the team sit rock bottom in the NPFL at the midway of the season and would really need a miracle to avoid relegation back to the NNL.
■ Obinna Nwobodo
The former Nigerian youth international was expected to make a move to Europe after playing a major role in Rangers NPFL title triumph last season. Even after failing to see a move come forward, not many would expect the young midfielder to flop the way he has this season.
He provided 8 assist for Chisom Egbechulam last season and although the latter as since moved to Sweden with Hacken, that cannot be said to be the reason for his below-par performances as the whole Rangers team have fumbled so far failing to make both the Caf champions league and Confederations cup group stages.
Maybe the youngster could still salvage his reputation and stake a claim for a super eagles shirt with improved performances in the second half of the season having scored just 4 goals in the first stanza 2 of which came against Gombe United in a thrilling encounter which ended 3-3.
It’s been a below par first stanza for the champions, already crashing out of the Caf champions and confederations Cup at the preliminary stage. On the local scene, they ended the first stanza of the league out of the top half of the table specifically in the 16th position just four points away from bottom placed Remo stars.
The Flying Antelopes’ problems are not only on the pitch as they have had problems off the pitch as well, first it was paying players’ salaries which lead to protest by players before a crucial Caf confederations cup game away to Zesco, and then it was followed by the sacking of their title-winning coach Imama Amapakabo.
The Enugu-based team need to get their acts together in the second half if they are to finish the season in a respectable position.
■ Godwin Obaje
The Last season’s highest goalscorer was expected to move out of the country in search of “greener pastures” but a move to Russia failed to materialise and the former Wikki tourist striker joined Ifeanyi Ubah instead, in a deal that made him the highest-paid player in the league pocketing 2 million Naira every month.
However, the striker who scored 19 goals last season hasn’t repaid with enough number of goals as compared to the amount he earns. The Anambra warriors striker have only scored 6 goals so far (penalties inclusive), a certainly poor return for the striker.
■ 697yellow cards & 24 red cards have been recorded in 190 matches
■ 3SC, plateau Utd & Wikki Tourist FC have the most individual goalscorers (12), two more than any other.
■ 171 players have accounted for the 374 goals recorded this season so far.
■Only El-Kanemi FC & MFM FC finished with 100% home record after #NPFL first round.
Home form for both teams:
MFM FC:🏾 WWWWWWWWW
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