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It has been a roller coaster in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) after just two match days with most of the big guns faltering while the unfancied actors have taken the lead cast in this season’s campaign.

Prior to the season’s kickoff, the preview of the pundits centred on Akwa United, Plateau United and Kano Pillars among others considered as the title contenders but after just two match days the shape and complexion has been characterized by wild and unpredictable outcomes.

FC Ifeanyiubah, with the odds stacked against them to even keep their status as top-flight teams following high-profile departures after last season are punching above their weights with goalkeeper Chinedu Anozie and Chijioke Alaekwe shouldering the responsibilities of largely inexperienced playing personnel.

Anozie currently leads the race for most clean sheets so far as he is yet to concede in 180 minutes of football in the league. He kept clean sheets against Plateau United and Nasarawa United and will hope for a third successive outing without conceding at Go Round this Sunday. Alaekwe was responsible for that last-gasp goal that knocked the stuffing out of Nasarawa United on Matchday 2 in Nnewi. FC Ifeanyiubah are currently second with four points after two matches behind El-Kanemi Warriors in Group B of the NPFL.

El-Kanemi go into Matchday 3 as the only side that have won their opening two matches and against very difficult opponents. Mohammed BabaGanaru’s men won 1-0 at Akwa United and followed up with an impressive 2-1 win over four-time champions Kano Pillars. Midfielder Abdulrazak Aliyu was influential for El-Kanemi in both games as his assist helped win at Akwa and his winning goal secured all points at home against Kano Pillars.

So far in the goalscoring race, the expected names are yet to get off the mark instead Heartland forward Chinonso Okonkwo is setting the pace with two goals — both he scored in his side’s 3-0 thumping of Plateau United at the Okigwe Township Stadium in midweek. Okonkwo is expected to lead the Naze Millionaires’ attack this Sunday when they face Nasarawa United at the Lafia City Stadium.


Seven-time champions Enyimba got their campaign to a superb start in front of their supporters in Aba where they defeated MFM FC 2-0, and this weekend they are up against Kwara United in Ilorin. Striker Abdulrahman Bashir got off the mark on Matchday 1 and he returns to Ilorin, where he remains a cult hero following his time at ABS FC.

Go Round FC pulled off the shock result of Matchday 2 when they beat Abia Warriors 2-1 on their patch and are now in buoyant mood to face FC Ifeanyiubah at the Krisdera Hotel Stadium in Omoku. After masterminding the defeat of his former team in Umuahia in midweek, Go Round head coach Willy Udube is keen to add another southeast outfit to his list of conquered this term.

However it is still early days for these actors who have jumped to the front row after just two matchdays. Sunday’s matches are expected to be mouthwatering with two of the big sides Kano Pillars and Akwa United going head to head at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano.

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.

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