All Systems Go as the NPFL Opens on Terrific Note
• Reigning champions Enyimba suffer loss to newly branded Rivers United
• Chisom Chikatara features for Abia Warriors’ trip to Ikorodu United
• 3-time champion Kano Pillars get campaign off on right track
The Nigeria Professional Football League commenced without a headline sponsor but the season openers had indicators of a good business campaign ahead.
Enyimba FC was given a reminder of the intensity of competition that awaits their title defence as the reigning champions had a losing start on the road to newly formed Rivers United FC in Port Harcourt. Frederick Obomate scored the only goal of the match with a 64 minute free kick to earn the home team their first three points of the season.
Sani Abacha Stadium, home turf of 2013-14 champions Kano Pillars, had an impressive turnout in the stands as 24, 657 fans were out in their numbers to have a Matchday experience in the league. Visiting Enugu Rangers had earlier taken the lead when Chiamaka Madu turned in a cross with a header past goalkeeper Yusuf Mohammed.
Gambo Mohammed brought Masu Gida back in the game with 12 minutes left in regulation time. Enugu Rangers got an Aggrey blow when the wingman scored in the death of time to inflict a road loss to the Antelopes.
Ikorodu United FC and MFM FC got off to comfortable starts as both Lagos clubs had their first taste of elite league football. MFM FC made the trip to Lafia and completed the shocker on the opening day with a 2-1 win over Nasarawa United while Ikorodu United showed mental strength to deny Abia Warriors three points at the Onikan Stadium.
Blast from the past
The 2014-15 season opened without a single away win and 3 goalless draws. With 4 away victories and only 3 home wins, the 2015-16 spell looks set for a great deal of record breaking.
Kano Pillars first home game attracted arguably the largest attendance on an opening Matchday in recent league history with a turnout of over 24, 000 fans.
Adebimpe Quadri officiated in the encounter between Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers as the centre referee. He’s the youngest FIFA-badged referee in Nigeria, aged 24.
A total of 20 goals were scored on the opening Matchday seven more than the opening day in the previous season. The number of goals scored in the opening weekend pretty much sums up the ambitions of the 20-club league, as these – or the lack of them – will either make or mar intentions as all teams play for honour, pride and glory.
Photo credit: npfl.ng
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