The 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League abridged season kicked off on January 13, after several postponements with the campaign expected to end this weekend after weeks of intense action. The league was divided into two groups, A and B, with three teams expected to qualify for the end of the season playoffs from each group while four each will be relegated to the Nigeria National League. NIGERIAN LEAGUE RENDEZVOUS presents various sides to the final matchday
Can Katsina Utd end Enyimba’s playoff hopes?
Currently occupying the final slot for qualification for playoffs in the Group A of the Abridged league of the NPFL, Enyimba will have to face Katsina United, who are fighting relegation, to achieve their goal of joining Rangers in the playoffs.
Only victory will be good enough for Enyimba, although a loss for MFM in Akure will give the Aba club playoffs qualification. But with all the games going on at the same time, they will have to take care of business from their end instead of waiting for others to do them a favour.
Katsina United on their part will have to get the result that will allow them to spend another season in the elite division.
Wikki at Rangers’ mercy
Wikki Tourists of Bauchi will hope Enugu Rangers will be resting players for the playoffs when both sides take to the pitch on Sunday with the home team not yet sure of their stay in the elite division.
Two clubs are already relegated to the lower division and two others will be joining them, and Wikki are in the mix after accumulating 27 points from 21 matches, just a point above the drop zone. Anything short of victory against Rangers on Sunday might spell doom for Wikki although if other results work in their favour, they might escape even with a loss.
Rivers to end on a high
Rivers United’s hopes of qualifying for the playoffs was shattered during the week after losing 1-0 to Rangers in their last game. They will however be looking forward to ending the season on a high when they welcome Bendel Insurance to Port Harcourt on Sunday in the final game of the season.
Insurance on the other hand at the moment must get something out of the game to be sure of their safety after fighting the drop from the start of the season.
Currently a spot behind their opponents, Rivers United will hope to get a victory at home to appease their fans and also their sponsor, Eunisell, who already invested a lot in the team.
Speaking with League Rendezvous, Rivers United midfielder, Kehinde Adedipe, said they are disappointed to miss out of the playoffs but will try their best to end the campaign on a high.
“Our plan as a team was to qualify for the playoffs, but it was not meant to be, so we must beat Insurance at home on Sunday,” the former Sunshine Stars of Akure player said.
“We know it is going to be tough, but we must get the victory so that we can as well finish ahead of them.”
He however called on the fans to come out in their numbers to cheer them to victory on Sunday.
MFM have already overarchieved this term
Lagos-based MFM FC will be patting themselves on the back after what they have been able to achieve this season.
At the end of the last campaign, the team was struggling hard to maintain their top flight status and after losing some of their top players like Sikiru Olatunbosun and few others, it was expected they would find it difficult to thrive in the new season.
However, with coach Fidelis Ilechukwu in charge, the team has been able to turn the table around with some new and enterprising players who at a time were leading the table.
With a game to the end of the season, the team can still secure playoff qualification if they can get a victory away to Sunshine Stars in Akure.
MFM are bad travellers as they could only secure a win and two draws away from home in the about to end season.
With 32 points from 21 games, a victory on Sunday will take them to 35 points which might just allow them to sneak in as long as the other games work in their favour.
Lobi to battle Remo for Ogbeide
It was a sad moment for league followers and the Nigeria football fraternity as a whole on Monday when one of the foremost coaches in the country, Solomon Ogbeide, was announced dead.
Ogbeide was the head coach of Lobi Stars before his death and the players will be fighting hard to honour him with a victory away to Remo Stars which will secure qualification for the team to feature in the playoffs.
Remo Stars are already relegated but will not want to end the season without giving it their all, however, the result will go in favour of the team who need it more.
Lobi Stars got to the group stages of the CAF Champions League and qualification for the playoffs will draw them closer to playing on the continent again this year.
Kwara Utd survival hangs in the balance
For Kwara United to still be playing in the NPFL next season, they will have to achieve the impossible while playing away to Niger Tornadoes this weekend.
Although Tornadoes have already dropped to the NNL, it is going to be a battle for Kwara to maintain their top flight status even with a win in Niger. They will have to bank on other results going their way to have any hope of survival.
Kwara Utd are in 10th position with 24 points from 21 matches while anything apart from total win will put an end to their stay in the elite division.
Go Round players have their future ahead of them – GM
General Manager of Go Round, Soni Uboh, has said the club will not be relegated as they will do all they can within the law to defeat Gombe United in their final game of the season.
According to the Uboh, the players have their future ahead of them in that game as they will not want to be the team that got relegated.
Go Round did their survival a lot of good on Monday when they played a 2-2 draw away to Nasarawa United and a win on Sunday will not only secure another season in the top flight for the team, it will likely relegate Gombe to the NNL.
Speaking with League Rendezvous, the GM said they players are all motivated ahead of the encounter as they have been paid all their entitlements.
“I will say Go Round is one of the most motivated teams in the league and we are ready for the game against Gombe United on Sunday,” he said.
“We have to give our all in that game and beat Gombe with as many as four goals to achieve our target of retaining our slot in the NPFL.
“The first leg against them ended in our favour in Gombe and we can also get the win at home with many goals.
“The sponsor of the club already promised the players double match bonus like he did in the game against Akwa United, even though they lost the game, they still received their bonuses and as at the moment, we are not owing them anything.
“The players are ready, the fans are expectant and we must give them the right performance on the field. This is an epic match for us and we are ready for it.”
Speaking further, the GM said they will also be monitoring the game between Heartland of Owerri and El-Kanemi Warriors as the game will also play a part in their quest for survival.
IfeanyiUbah target point against Akwa Utd
It was a big victory for FC IfeanyiUbah on Monday as they secured a priceless 1-0 away victory to El-Kanemi Warriors, a result that has practically ended the playoff hopes of the Maiduguri-based team.
A point against already qualified Akwa United will seal a playoff position for IfeanyiUbah as they prepare to go back to the continent, the second time since the club was formed.
IfeanyiUbah currently occupy the third position in Group B with 33 points from 21 games, three points ahead of the chasing pack.
Nasarawa Utd hopeful of playoff
It was indeed a bad result for Nasarawa United on Monday when they drew their home game against Go Round FC and will be looking forward to getting the points back when they take on already relegated Yobe Dessert Stars this weekend.
A win for the away side will give them a rare hope of qualification if other results work in their favour.
Delta Force upbeat ahead of Plateau Utd clash
It will stand as one of the biggest survival stories in the history of the NPFL as Delta Force are set to secure their top flight status for another season.
The team which metamorphosed from Kada City to Delta Force during the season has shown a strong will to find themselves in the top half of the table.
Kada City gained promotion to the NPFL at the start of the campaign and were at a time fighting for their lives before a quick turn of results pushed them away from the relegation zone before the team was sold to Delta State government, who changed the name to Delta Force.
A win this weekend against former champions, Plateau United, will be enough for them to spend another season in the NPFL, their major goal at the start of the season.
Plateau United will have to be careful as a loss might send them to the NNL if other results fail to work in their favour.
Abia Warriors, Heartland in battle for survival
Abia Warriors and Heartland will be playing at home against Kano Pillars and El-Kanemi Warriors respectively with nothing but survival on their mind.
Both teams are currently on 28 points and in eighth and ninth position with anything apart from a victory ending their stay in the NPFL.
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