NPFL rounds-off as clubs battle relegation

Published on: 15 November 2015
NPFL rounds-off as clubs battle relegation
Nigeria Premier League

Though the champion for the 2014/15 Nigeria Premier League season, Enyimba, has already emerged, the season nonetheless is set for a thrilling climax this Sunday as the battle to escape relegation will be headlining the final day of action.

Aside the fierce contest to stay up in the elite cadre, the fight for available continental tickets is also bound to add some glamour to the final day of action of the domestic League. CONTINENTAL TICKETS As champions, Enyimba have secured one of the tickets for next year’s CAF Champions League and Warri Wolves are in good stead to snatch the other ticket once they get the needed victory over already relegated Taraba United.

Having narrowly missed out on winning the League, Wolves are expected to grab the chance of Champions League football next season by nailing Taraba United on Sunday in Warri.

In that regard, the battle is now to know who will finish in third spot to snatch the CAF Confederation Cup ticket. Mathematically, the quartets of Giwa FC, Sunshine Stars, Nasarawa United and Wikki in that order all have the chance to claim the last spot – a place in the CAF Confederation Cup.

Of the lot however, giant killers Giwa FC seem to have the best chance as they have their destiny in their hands. The ambitious privately owned Jos-based club need a point in their away game to Nasarawa United to be sure of rubbing shoulders with other African teams in the second-tier CAF Confederations Cup next season.

The needed point sure won’t come easy as Nasarawa United on their part need an outright win over Giwa FC. If that happens, Giwa will hope that the champions, Enyimba, do them a favour by defeating Sunshine Stars at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

On the other hand, Sunshine Stars like Nasarawa United also need an outright win and will hope that Nasarawa United do them the favour of defeating Giwa FC since they have one of the three best goal difference among the top-six sides going into the final match day. For the last team in contention for the third spot, Wikki, the permutation is different and somewhat harder. The Bauchi club can only qualify for Africa’s second tier club competition on the back of losses by Giwa FC and Sunshine Stars provided Nasarawa United’s victory over Giwa FC is not beyond a goal margin. Aside seeing their rivals lose, Wikki will still need to beat outgoing champions Kano Pillars by at least a four-goal margin to gate crash into the continent next season. RELEGATION BATTLE Away from the battle for continental tickets, next stop is the fierce contest for survival. Already, three teams, Kwara United, Taraba United and Bayelsa United, are heading to down to the Nigeria National League next season but one more team will be joining the trio after Sunday’s games are concluded.

Lobi Stars, Enugu Rangers, Sharks, Dolphins and Akwa United are all in danger of dropping to the second tier on the final day depending on how results pan out.

The Port Harcourt clubs, Dolphins and Sharks, both have their work well cut as only away wins against Shooting Stars and Abia Warriors respectively is their best bet to avoid the drop.

For Rangers, keeping their enviable record of never relegated from the top-flight before looks within reach as the Flying Antelopes only require a home win over Bayelsa to be sure they stay up.

After going six matches without a win, Rangers will sure want to end the season on a high. The last relegation dogfight pitches Federation Cup finalists, Akwa United, against Lobi Stars.

It is quite tricky for Akwa United as victory for the Promise Keepers could still count for nothing should Dolphins, Rangers and Sharks all win. The only scenario which guarantees Akwa United staying up is if they go on a goal scoring spree; winning with a four-goal margin and that will mean Lobi drop to the second tier. Lobi just need a point to be safe.

In all, fans are expected to be at the edge of their seats at different match venues on Sunday as the curtain drops on the 2014/15 League season in Nigeria. FINAL DAY FIXTURES Heartland v El-Kanemi Shooting Stars v Dolphins Kwara Utd v FC Ifeanyiubah Abia Warriors v Sharks Wolves v FC Taraba Sunshine Stars v Enyimba Rangers v Bayelsa Utd Akwa Utd v Lobi Stars Wikki. v Kano Pillars Nasarawa Utd v Giwa FC