With the Nigeria Professional Football League matchday 35 round of matches now done and dusted, strangely there are still lots for teams to fight for with three matchdays left until the end of the season.
Surprisingly, only MFM won out of the top six teams. Meanwhile it’s as tight as ever at the bottom of the table, but Gombe United look set to join Remo Stars as one of the relegated sides. Here are five things we learned from a matchday which produced 24 league goals.
1. Ten home wins, no surprises
Matchday 35 posted ten home wins with host clubs consolidating on home support and got the better of visiting sides.
At this stage of the season, you just can’t afford to drop points at home, a thought shared by the ten sides who played in front of their home fans on Sunday.
MFM, FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Rivers United held on to slender leads knowing anything but victories will hamper Thier differing league ambitions, whereas seven other host sides cruised to victory on their home turf.
2. Captain, Leader, Rabiu Ali
He’s the toast of Kano, he’s the darling of Masu Visa, his name is Rabiu Ali.
Fresh from leading the home based Super Eagles to next year’s edition of the African Nations Championship in which he scored in a 2-0 win over Benin Republic, Pele as Ali is fondly called started and scored for Kano Pillars against Abia Warriors.
Ali defied human logic for a professional footballer to start a game 24hrs after taking to the pitch in a high profile encounter. The Kano Pillars No. 10 struck his side’s second much to the joy of the home support after Nyima Nwagua had given Pillars the lead.
He’s not got many year’s left to play in his boots owing to his age, but Rabiu Ali will forever be remembered Nigeria Football followers for days like this when Pele defied human logic.
3.No love lost between Rivers United and Enyimba
The result, a 2-1 victory for Rivers United, but what the scoreline didn’t say was how fesity the encounter was.
Both sides pushed and shoved eachother very early in the game with the foul count for both sides (51) at an alarming rate, typical of a derby.
With both clubs in need of points for differing reasons, it was Rivers United who went on to secure all three points with a 2-1 victory.
Enyimba head back to Calabar with memories of a game in which Referee Salihu Tatabu left his mark on with dodgy offside calls and his decision not to add any minute of added time after so many stops witnessed in the match especially in the second half.
Rivers United on the other hand won’t care much as not only did they record successive league victories for only the second time this season, they grabbed three vital points in their quest to stay in the NPFL.
4. Watchout Odey, Okpotu ‘the Panther’ is coming to get you
Stephen Odey leads the way with the highest number of goals scored this season (18), but he must be looking over his shoulders as the Panther races nigh.
Lobi Stars hitman Anthony Okpotu grabbed a hat-trick in his side’s 3-2 win over El-Kanemi Warriors in Makurdi.
Okpotu have now scored three hat-tricks this season, two more than any other NPFL player. With three matchdays before the end of the season, the race for who will be crowned 2016/2017 NPFL top scorer is surely on.
5. Plateau United must wait for league triumph
Plateau United’s 0-2 loss at the hands of ABS FC ensured they must wait before being confirmed 2016/2017 NPFL champions.
Add to the fact that MFM won at home to Gombe United by the slimmest of margins (1-0), Plateau United’s lead was cut short to just three points.
With games against Rivers United and Rangers at home still to come and a trip to Wikki Tourists sandwiched in between those two matches, the cold kunu expected to be served to mark their lfirst league success may have just been put on ice.
But like many, ABS FC gaffer Henry Makinwa still believes they are good value to emerge as champions.
Makinwa who spoke to npfl.ng said: “I must say Plateau United are good side, tactically sound team. I saw a lot of good things in them today and I must agree that they are good for the title.”
Photo Credit: LMC media