After matchday 24 in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), the season is already taking shape as the top teams battling for the league title & continental places are being separated from mid-table teams and the teams who could drop to the National League are already jostling for survival.
While subsequent articles would analyse the title run currently headed by the seemingly unstoppable Plateau United who thumped newcomers and relegation strugglers, Gombe United 5-1 on Sunday and also got a surprised come back 2-1 away win over Sunshine Stars of Akure on match day 22, with this, Cheapgoals.com will look at those teams who could likely drop into relegation.
Shooting stars, Sunshine Stars and the duo newcomers, Gombe and Remo Stars are the four teams in the drop zone although nothing is confirmed yet as 3 points separate Wikki and Rivers in 15th and 16th respectively from Sunshine and Gombe who are sitted in 17th and 18th with the former two still to meet in a rescheduled tie.
Remo Stars looked like a team with no chance of surviving the drop at the end of the first stanza, having been in the 20th position for most parts of the season, however a change in form saw the Sky Blue Stars go on a 3 match unbeaten run with 2 wins and a draw to finally move out of the bottom floor which also means that they are just 4 points from safety.
Their next 3 matches see them face tricky trips to Maiduguri to face El Kanemi Warriors, a team they defeated 2-0 earlier in the season and Niger Tornadoes with a tricky home tie against Akwa United coming in between. Inconsistencies, lack of goals and poor away results which have seen them pick just 3 points on the road all season and also cost the team valuable points in some games so far and with the signing of Bright Ejike who has some top flight experience, he could add to their fire power but most importantly away points most be won if they must escape relegation at the expense of their Southwest rivals, Shooting Stars and Sunshine Stars.
Gombe United are also newcomers in the top flight but have shown a bit of promise with some unexpected results in the early part of the season but a recent dip in form plus a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of table-toppers, Plateau United has made them drop into the relegation dogfight.
Just one win and a draw are all the Pantami landlord have to show for in their last six matches, a 1-0 win over Katsina United and a thrilling 3-3 draw against soon to be dethroned League champions Rangers Intl in May has put their league status in jeopardy. With just 3 points away from safety and Remo Stars breathing down their neck, they must show hunger in their next few games against fellow strugglers Sunshine Stars, a home tie against Abia Warriors and a trip to Nasarrawa United in order to stand a chance of survival.
Shooting Stars on their part are no newcomers to relegation fights, the Oluyole Warriors only escaped the drop last season with just two points and are looking like they could do a repeat of the 2013 season when they finished bottom of the league and dropped into the National League.
After their loss to MFM last Sunday, the Fatai Amoo led technical crew was handed an ultimatum to escape the relegation zone soonest. The team face ABS at home, Rivers away and welcome Wikki Tourist in Ibadan in their next three matches as they seek to avoid their second relegation in less than 5 years.
Sunshine Stars appeared in the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup in 2012 and 2011 respectively and have finished in the top half of the table in the last few seasons but this season the Owena Whales have been embroiled in controversy, starting with the club’s failure to pay its players salary to be exiled from the Akure Stadium for crowd troubles and failure to control their players which occurred in their 1-2 loss at home to Plateau United on matchday 23.
The punishment by the LMC on the team for misconduct in their last home game showed the total disarray the team has found itself having lost twice at home (0-1 to Lobi and 1-2 to Plateau) in their last six league games winning just once overall, losing the remaining 5.
The Gbenga Ogunbote led side need to drastically improve their performance starting with their next game against fellow strugglers Gombe United, 2nd place MFM and Abia Warriors, if they are to remain in the top flight any further.
However, all four teams still stand a chance of beating the drop with the duo of Wikki Tourist and Rivers United sitting just 3 points over the bottom four in 16th and 15th. The difference between tenth placed ABS and bottom placed Shooting Stars is 8 points and with 14 games left in the NPFL season, anything can still happen.
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Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
2 Potential Manager To Replace Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick awesome reign with the Bavarian giant is gradually winding down, as it’s looking likely that he may not further manage the Die Roten next season.
Bayern Munich’s quest to win the Champions League consecutively came to end on Tuesday night, via the UEFA’s away goal rules having lost the first leg at home to Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-finals despite being the better side at home.
The Bavarian giant will now focus on league duty and they’re no doubt the team in pole position to win the Bundesliga, as the 2020-21 campaign is gradually coasting home with fewer games left to be played. In that regard, there is a great need for Die Roten to start preparing for next season administration and coaching wise.
The friction relationship between Hansi Flick and the Sports Director has broken down to such as extent that the manager has decided to terminate his current contract.
Hansi Flick sent shock waves through German football on Saturday after a 3-2 win over Wolfburg which keeps the Bavarian in pole position to retain the league title. Hansi Flick issued a statement about his decision to exit when the current campaign draws to a close.
“I told the team today that I informed the club during the week, after the game in Paris, I would like to terminate my contract at the end of the season.
“It was important to me that the team learn this from me because there was already a lot of hallway rumours going around.
“We’ve done a great job together for almost two years. I’m absolutely impressed with this team, their quality and their attitude.”
He added: “I also want to thank the club that gave me the chance to manage this incredible team.
“This decision was not easy for me. I’m a fan of this club. Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge all were childhood idols for me.
“I’m eternally grateful to the club for the chance they gave me to become head coach here.”
It’s quite evident that a new manager would be appointed to pave way for a new rebuild of the team especially with the looming departure of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez.
Two potential top managers that could succeed Hansi Flick, should he accept Die Mannschaft managerial position.
- Julien Nagelsmann – (RB Leipzig)
Nagelsmann has been rumoured as a possible replacement to succeed not one but many managers in Europe’s top-flight leagues whose future with their respective clubs are not guaranteed. This time around, the 33-year-old has been rumoured to be one of the possible potential managers to succeed Hansi Flick.
It could be argued that Nagelsmann is the tailor-made manager to take over the reins at the Allianz Arena, and there is no doubt RB Leipzig manager would certainly harbour the dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Nagelsmann is presently focusing on the job at hand with RB Leipzig, plus the fact that he’s still under contract with his employers until the end of the 2022-23 season.
With RB Leipzig and Nagelsmann flying high in the Bundesliga in terms of team performances, with next season European football spot already secured, the club’s Executive Director Oliver Mintzlaff may consider letting him leave to join their rival.
However, it’s left to be seen how things would shape up at the end of the campaign.
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- Jurgen Klopp – (Liverpool)
The relationship the German tactician has achieved thus far with Liverpool started in 2015 when he joined the Kop from Borussia Dortmund, since then he has achieved quite an incredible success with the Reds winning their first league title after thirty years and a Champions League triumph.
Liverpool were eliminated early in both domestic cup competitions and failed to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and it’s quite impossible to say that the Kop will defend their title with their current epileptic form in the Premier League especially when it’s looking done and dusted that the cityzen would clinch the title.
Having used close to six years with Liverpool since he joined the Anfield side, this could be the perfect time for the former Borussia Dortmund manager to take up a new challenge. However, despite Liverpool’s unpalatable 2020-21 campaign, the German has often reiterated that he is in no way finished at Liverpool, despite been link to the Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft managerial position.
Given his incredible success with BVB, it’s quite evident that he would one day go on to manage either Die Roten or Die Mannschaft. Should Bayern secure the service of Klopp, he would certainly be the right and wise choice for the Bavarian giant.
At the end of the campaign, there would be a breath of fresh air in the Bavarian giant camp, with the new CEO Oliver Kahn taking the mantle of leadership from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. In that sense, it’s left to be seen if the incoming leader would sanction the appointment of a new manager or stick with Hansi Flick. Only time would tell.