Plateau United returned to the top of the table; ElKanemi Warriors remain impregnable again at home and Ogunbote gets the better of Eguma, these were the headlines after Matchday 15 in the Nigeria Professional Football league. As always Ekine Moseph takes a look at 5 talking points from the weekends action.
Reuben Bala hattrick sends Plateau United top
Free-scoring Plateau United returned to the top of the NPFL table thanks to a 4-1 trouncing of ABS FC putting to bed last weekends demoralising defeat to MFM FC.
With their manager, Kennedy Boboye back in the dugout after serving a 1-game suspension Plateau United made light work of this season’s surprise package ABS FC with Reuben Bala grabbing a hattrick scoring in the 42′, 70′ and 90+2 mins.
Joshua Obaje got the home side on their way to a resounding victory when he put them into the lead with just 20mins gone. But ABS FC got back into the game four minutes later thanks to an owngoal by Plateau United’s Hamisu Saleh. It then became a Reuben Bala show as his treble ensured his team regained top spot in the NPFL standings.
MFM brought back down to earth by lowly Gombe United
Three consecutive home wins and creditable away draws at Enyimba and Wikki Tourist sandwiched in between had seen MFM rise to the top of the NPFL table not forgetting the applaudable feats achieved by young prodigy Stephen Odey, the Olukoya boys at the weekend surprisingly were defeated 1-0 by Gombe United.
To put this into perspective, coach Ilechukwu started Triple-O (Onuwa, Olatunbosun and Odey) in an away game, something he has rarely done this season on their travels. Though he still made six changes to the side that defeated Rivers United 2-1 last Wednesday, you will expect them to at the very least eke out a point rather than see their bubble burst.
No disrespect to Gombe United and it’s players, but MFM will see this as an opportunity not taken especially having lost by the narrowest of margins.
Clock ticking for Imama Amapakabo
Surely things aren’t going the way as planned by Coach Imama Amapakabo at Rangers. The defending NPFL Champions are struggling to say the least.
Bottom of the league though having played three games less, a 0-1 defeat away at Katsina United made it 4 losses in last 5 games in the league and with just 8 goals scored Imama could do with a pick me up.
In case you haven’t heard, the coach loved by many including yours truly for the way his side played last season – their attacking panache and the way they put teams to the sword, things have gone sour with Imama and the management of Rangers International with Imama and his technical crew slapped with a 3-match ultimatum to save their jobs. One game gone now and two left the clock is ticking for Imama Amapakabo.
Ojo Olorunleke can save your destiny
As crazy as that headline might sound in truth Sunshine Stars’ goalkeeper, Ojo Olorunleke can save anything even your destiny.
Only a minute into the game against Niger Tornadoes, the host were awarded a penalty by Referee Lamido Ahmed. Undaunted by the referees decision, Olorunleke remained focused to produce a smart stop to deny Ifeanyi Okoye his moment of joy.
As if that wasn’t enough, Tornadoes were again given another penalty just after the hour mark with Olorunleke this time the culprit. But as it was with the first, the goalkeeper saved Sadiq Suleiman’s spot kick, his second penalty save in the game.
Though Sunshine Stars went on to lose the game 2-1, according to @NPFstats Ojo Olorunleke has saved 3 penalties this season, one more than Rangers’ Nana Bonsu and Kano Pillars’ Danladi Isah.
Ogunbote gets the better of Eguma
The weekend saw two managers who have been in the league for years; Gbenga Ogunbote and Stanley Eguma go head-to-head at the UJ Esuene stadium in Calabar in arguably the weekends stand out.
An Mfon Udoh penalty ensured Enyimba’s Ogunbote got the better of an Eguma-led side for the first time since 2012 in five attempts increasing the pressure on the Rivers United gaffer.
As for the result itself, Enyimba continued their mini resurgence with just one defeat in their last 5 games.