Connect with us

Nigerian Football

Chaff expected to separate from wheat as Championship play-off enters home stretch




Even if the spate of draws persists, the possible final shape of the NPFL Championship log will become very apparent this Friday.

It is the penultimate match day. Front runners will attempt to consolidate while the trailers will be aiming to step up as the Nigeria Premier League looks heading for a photo-finish.

Second on the log and defending champions, Rivers United will be hoping to fence off desperate pre-championship favourites, Bendel Insurance who are fourth on the table and aiming to inch their ways into possible continental ticket winners’ position.

That is how the MatchDay 4 will kick-off this afternoon at the water-front Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos. While a draw can see Rivers United clinching a good position, Bendel Insurance, the draw specialists, will need an outright win to have a realistic chance of going continental.

It has been decades since they flew the Nigerian flag. Their current rejuvenation initially indicated the possibility of grabbing one of the three possible tickets obtainable from the championship, but if they fail, they have another slot obtainable from the Federation Cup when they will face Enugu Rangers.


The second match of this Friday is another ‘Star War’ that evokes ‘thunder and blood’.  

Lobi Stars at the bottom position will attempt an upstage Remo Stars from their slippery third position. Only a win can realistically cement Remo Stars in the top three bracket.

Remo Stars, easily the most shinning in terms of entertaining football have had elements of ill-luck trailing them.

Despite a controversial penalty kick decision that say them trailing at 2-1, they battled to a 2-2 draw in their opening duel with current table toppers, Enyimba.

They were seconds away from a possible victory against the second placed Rivers United, perhaps inexperience made them to lower guards and conceded an equaliser that got their encounter again stalemated at 2-2.


On Wednesday, they looked the more likely team to win in their encounter with Sunshine Stars.

After shining brightly in the first half and having a goal and missed chances to show for their performance, they slept off as the second half began and within the opening minutes, they had again dropped two points as they did in their earlier two matches.

A win against Lobi Stars can be a breather for them. Enyimba have everything to play for as they engaged Sunshine Stars in a dicey encounter.

A win, or at worst, a draw will certainly secure a visa for Enyimba to go continental again next month.

Teams P W D L F A GD Pts


Enyimba 3 1 2 0 4 3 1 5

Rivers 3 1 2 0 3 2 1 5

Remo 3 0 3 0 5 5 0 3

Bendel 3 0 3 0 2 2 0 3

Sunshine 3 0 2 1 2 3 -1 2


Lobi 3 0 2 1 0 1 -1 2

Day 4: June 9th

  • Rivers United Vs Bendel Insurance – 2pm
  • Lobi Stars Vs Remo Stars – 4pm
  • Sunshine Stars Vs Enyimba FC – 6pm

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.