The 2019 NPFL season has come to an end, but still to be played for is the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations Cup places up for grabs, as well as the league title.
Twenty four teams started the journey in January, 8 of them have dropped into the Nigeria National League, they include 2016 Aiteo cup finalists, Niger Tornadoes, Remo Stars, Bendel Insurance, Kwara United, Go Round, El kanemi Warriors, Yobe Desert Stars and Gombe United.
Meanwhile, Defending Champions Lobi Stars, Aiteo Cup holders, Enugu Rangers, two times Champions league winners Eyinmba, Kano Pillars, Former Aiteo cup Champions FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Akwa United will jostle for supremacy in the Super 6.
We take a quick look at the six teams ahead of the Championship play-offs
Coach: Gbenga Ogunbote
The flying antelopes are currently enjoying a good spell which started last season when they won the Aiteo cup enroute to the CAF Confederations cup group stages.
They went on a 8-match unbeaten run on the continent from the preliminary stages till the double header against Tunisian side, Es Sahel who they lost to home and away thus ending their cup dreams.
However, on the home front the Enugu based team topped the Group A standings and despite having to shuffle between the league and CAF Confederations cup, they became the first team to secure Super 6 places with two round of matches to spare and they would be hoping to clinch the title they won in 2016 after long years of wait.
Considered as the favorites to lift the NPFL trophy or at the least secure a Champions league spot by bookmakers, Rangers would be banking on usual suspects like Godwin Aguda, Micheal Uchebo, Seka Pascal and Bright Silas amongst others while Ghanaian Goalkeeper Nana Bonsu who has been tremendous this season will hope to finish on a high after been named in Ghana’s AFCON preliminary squad.
Lobi and Enugu Rangers are the major reasons why Nigeria has its 4 Continental spots restored this season after making it through the long and tedious qualifying stages to the group stages.
Although, Lobi just like Rangers went out at the group stages, recording just two wins; one against Mamelodi Sundwons in Enugu and another against Asec Mimosas.
Once the markurdi based side completed their outstanding games, they went from relegation contenders into the Championship places confirming their super 6 participation on the final day of the season.
Unfortunately, the defending Champions of the NPFL lost their Coach Solomon Ogbeide on the final match day hours before matchday but still found the encouragement to hold on to snatch a draw away from Remo Stars to confirm their NPFL super 6 status.
The team is currently on an 9-game unbeaten run winning 3 games drawing 6 and they would hope to carry and improve such form into the competition as they hope to become the first side since Kano Pillars in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 to win the NPFL title back to back.
Coach: Usman Abd’Allah
The Aba elephants last played on the continent in the 2017/2018 season where they got to the semi finals of the CAF Confederations Cup partly due to the abrupt end to the 2017/2018 season as well as Nigeria’s reduced slot on the continent.
This season however they have a chance to return to the continent and as well get their hands on the trophy they last won in 2015 after battling MFM FC for the final Super 6 slot.
Enyimba gathered 33 points from 22 games in Group A and although they do not have Mfon Udoh (now with Akwa United) as their talisman, they will be considered as contenders for the title as well as a return to the CAF Champions League where they remain Nigeria’s sile winners.
Coach: Musa Ibrahim
The 4-time NPFL Champions will be led by veteran skipper Rabiu Ali as they seem to add a fifth title to their trophy haul.
Having lost the Aiteo cup final last season to Enugu Rangers after losing a 3-goal lead and consequently a CAF Confederations Cup place, the northerners will not want to be shut out of the continent once again.
They will have the chance to revenge the last season’s loss to Rangers when both teams face off on the 10th of June in the Super 6.
With veteran and experienced players like Gambo Muhammed and Rabiu Ali still in the team, it will be totally wrong to write off the Sai Masu Gida who will likely have a good number of supporters at the Agege stadium.
Coach: Rafael Everton
The promise keepers are one of the only two teams in the super 6 to have never won the Nigeria Professional Football League. Although the Akwa-Ibom team have won the Aiteo cup twice in 2015 and most recently in 2017.
However, it would be dangerous on the premise of this to write off the team as likely winners of the Npfl Super 6 after overturning a poor start to the season to finish atop Group B with 38 points, one above second placed Kano Pillars.
Key to this turnaround is former Enyimba striker Mfon Udoh who finished the season with 8 goals from as many games and as well have enough experience to lead the Uyo landlords to a CAF Champions League place.
United got three wins away from home in the regular season which shows the promise keepers can comfortably get wins anywhere and can as well count on Ndifreke Effiong for goals in case Mfon Udoh fails to deliver
FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Coach: Uche Okagbue
The youngest squad in the Super 6 by far, after a overhaul of majority of it’s player before the start of the season. Ifeanyi Ubah is the second team in the Championship play off yet to win the NPFL.
Although just like Akwa United, they have won the Aiteo Cup once in 2015. The team come into the Super 6, recovering from a three-game losing streak to win it’s last two games of the season to salvage their Continental ticket dreams.
While little maybe known about the Anambra based side, team striker Uche Ihuarulam might pose a threat for opposing team although the team’s inconsistency may be their greatest undoing.
However, it might be dangerous to write-off the team’s chances based on that as they are capable of beating any team examplified by the team’s scalp of Akwa United on the last day of the season as well as beating Kano Pillars in the season, both of who are fellow Super 6 contenders.
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