The 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League [NPFL] season is set to finally kick off this Sunday and there will be six games across six centres with six games postponed due to continental engagements and grace period for newly promoted teams. We look at the top five fixtures of the six.
5. Kwara Utd vs Sunshine Stars
Kwara United will kick off their season wishing to replicate their preseason form that saw them lose just three of the 16 games they played, when they entertain Sunshine Stars in ilorin. Both teams struggled all through last season, sitting in the bottom half and were lucky not to be relegated with the abrupt halt to the league. The hosts are likely to beat their visitors in this crunchy tie.
4. Kano Pillars vs Heartland
Pillars start their quest for another league title at the Sani Abacha stadium in Kano where they will play hosts to last season’s whipping boys, Heartland FC, who were very lucky to remain in the NPFL because of the decision not to relegate any team. The Naze Millionaires have recruited well to bolster their squad and has also kept their coaching trio from last season, Mehmet Tayfun, Ramson Madu and Ezekiel Onyegbule to stabilize the team and the Aiteo Cup finalists promises to be a litmus test for the large coaching crew. Pillars have the bigger pedigree and are likely to send their visitors home empty-handed.
3. Plateau Utd vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah
2016/2017 champions Plateau United had a torrid season in the continent last season, failing to reach the group stages of both continental club competitions and will be looking for respite when they host the Anambra warriors in Jos this Sunday. The Nnewi based side had their own fair share of worries last season and were among the lucky teams with the League Management Company [LMC] decision to keep all 20 teams in the league. Both teams will be hoping for a good start and it promises lots of action.
2. Akwa Utd vs Elkanemi Warriors
Last season ‘s title hopefuls, Akwa United will play hosts to the Bornu army of Elkanemi Warriors. The reverse fixture last season saw the Promise Keepers avoid a defeat in Maiduguri to compound the woes of their former coach, Imama Amapakabo. Sunday’s opener will be expected to be a revenge mission with both teams wearing new looks. Akwa United might have the upper hand but nothing should be taken away from the visitors.
1. Enyimba vs MFM
Both teams who had a taste of continental football will square it out in Aba. This will be the first league fixture to be held in Aba in almost three years. Enyimba will be under pressure to impress the home fans. Both teams have tried to maintain stability by keeping the coaching staff and a bulk of the playing staff. MFM duo of Okorom Stanley and Chukwuka Onuwa are likely to face their former team after making the switch to the Aba Millionaires from the Olukoya Boys. This is a top drawer game and it promises fireworks in an electrifying arena.
Here are the full 2018/2019 NPFL season week one fixtures:
Wikki Tourists FC vs Insurance (Postponed)
Rivers Utd FC vs Remo Stars (Postponed).
Rangers Int’l vs Niger Tornadoes (Postponed)
Lobi Stars vs Katsina Utd (Postponed)
Kwara Utd vs Sunshine Stars.
Enyimba Int’l FC vs MFM FC
Yobe Desert Stars vs Gombe Utd (postponed)
Go-Round FC vs Kada City (Postponed).
Nasarawa Utd FC vs Abia Warriors FC.
Plateau Utd FC vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Kano Pillars FC vs Heartland FC
Akwa Utd vs El-Kanemi Warriors
Date is Sunday, 13th January 20019 and kickoff is 4pm.
Image Credit: Complete Sports Nigeria