Connect with us

Nigerian Football

NPFL: Half Time Reflections




The Nigerian football league is now midway into the current season as clubs that have fulfilled all fixtures must have played 19 matches each. The clubs are therefore on mid-term break. It is not a time to rest, but one for stock taking.
The break should elapse for a duration of three weeks, but already stars, new leaders, different twist have already emerged in the league.
Stephen Odey has moved his goal tally to 14 while Alhassan Ibrahim is in goal number 10. One major highlight of the season was MFM’s Sikiru Olatunbosun winning a CNN goal of the week with his wonderful strike in a flood-lit home game against Enugu Rangers.
It was a global advertisement for the Nigerian league which is very desirous of such international attention.
Plateau United with 35 points, are the surprise league leaders. In second position is yet another package of surprise, MFM. That was a team that narrowly escaped relegation last season.
They are at par on points with El Kanemi while Niger Tornadoes are fourth place with 30 points. It will be recalled that MFM started the first stanza of last season as one of the frontrunners before sliding into the relegation zone as the second stanza progressed.
It is hoped there will be no recurrence this time around when the home stretch of the league begins.
Akwa United with 29 points, are looking comfortable in the fifth place.
Where then are the traditional front runners? So far, it has been a season of surprises. Defending champions, Enugu Rangers are bottom of the ladder. They however still have five outstanding matches to play. Enyimba seems lost in the middle of the pack while Kano Pillars are yet to find their usual rhythm.
In the lowest part of the table are Remo Stars, Sunshine Stars, Wikki Tourists and Rivers United, all playing a sort of “snake and ladder” board game at the bottom.
In the next 19 games, one expects more excitement; more energy and also display of more skill.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading