Nigerian clubs begin battle for league title

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After five months in the doldrums, the Nigeria Professional Football Leagues (NPFL) resumes today, November 3, with matches across the country.

However, there is one pertinent question on the lips of football fans which is what club will be crowned champions at the end of the 38 games of the 2019/2020 campaign to replace last season winners, Enyimba FC of Aba.

While Enyimba will be hoping they can rule the NPFL again, they are guaranteed a fierce battle from some strong teams while there is room for some surprises as the season rolls on.

Some of the teams readily seen as possible title contenders and that should give Eyinmba a run for their money include Akwa United, Plateau United, Kano Pillars, Enugu Rangers, Lobi Stars and possibly Heartland FC with the massive changes at the club.

Apart from Enyimba and Rangers who have won the Nigeria League title eight and seven times respectively, Heartland and Kano Pillars rank high among the successful clubs in the league with five and four league shields to their names respectively.

Pillars won the 2019 Federation Cup after ending the Super Six in the second position behind Enyimba and will be looking forward to winning the title they last won in 2014.

Lobi Stars have also put themselves forward as genuine title contenders by hiring an astute manager like Gbenga Ogunbote and also recruited vastly experienced like players like David Tyavkase, Sibi Gwar, and Sunday Akleche among others to join strong guns like Sikiru Alimi to ruffle feathers.

For Rangers, though they were not that busy in the transfer market, they have been able to keep at least 90 per cent of their players and this will give them stability going into the new season.

While some will be fighting for the title, some definitely will be preoccupied with retaining their Premier League status and not dropping to the Nigeria National League, NNL.

It would be surprising if Adamawa United escape from going back to where they came from in the NNL, same for Jigawa Golden Stars who, though are a decent side, may be hampered due to their weak final strength.

Apart from the newly-promoted teams, Wikki Tourists also look like a team that could lose their Premier League status at the end of this present campaign.

For today’s round of matches, Plateau United will trade tackles with Lobi Stars at the New Jos Stadium in Jos.

Lobi who topped in 2018, will look to shock Plateau at the 44,000 capacity Jos Stadium with their returnee veterans.

In Dutse, it will be a battle between Wikki Tourists and Jigawa Stars.

For many, the star fixture for the weekend will be in Kano where Pillars will host Rivers United. Both teams are entertaining and have huge followership.

While Pillars have retained the bulk of their team, they have also added a few more to bolster their squad.

Rivers on their part, were involved in massive recruitment, adding 16 new players to their squad with former Super Eagles defender, Azubuike Egwuekwe, and former Emyimba and Akwa United midfield battler, Kelly Kester the main attractions.

In Delta, Warri Wolves who are back in the top flight since 2016, will welcome a flamboyant Akwa United who said they are aiming for the NPFL title.

In Okigwe, Heartland FC coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, will welcome his old club, MFM, who are starting life under new manager Tony Bolus.

Illechukwu having spent 13 years with the Olukoya Boys before joining the Naze Millionaires, should know the inner workings of his opponent.

In Anambra, FC IfeanyiUbah will welcome newly promoted Adamawa United. The Nnewi side has lost a lot of players this season but have recruited budding talents hungry to make a name for themselves.

Elsewhere, Delta Force will host Dakkada FC, formerly known as Akwa Starlets, as both teams will want to start life in the top flight on a winning note.

It will be another interesting tie between two ball-playing sides, Abia Warriors and Katsina United, at the Umuahia Township Stadium.

The home side have Henry Makinwa at the helm of affairs having lost Abdullahi Biffo to Kwara United.

However, the game between Rangers and Sunshine Stars will not hold, the same as the Enyimba versus Nasarawa United game because of the continental engagements of the People’s Elephants and the Flying Antelopes.

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