Tricky matches in Abeokuta, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Nnewi as curtain is drawn on 2016/2017 NPFL

Posted by Victor Enyinnaya | 25 September 2016 | 3,110 times

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As the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2016/2017 season is home ward bound, four football clubs are in for a photo finish affair. That is the name of the game now. In short, it is the survival of the fittest.

The teams are Rangers International with 57 points plus 11 goals, hotly chased by Rivers United 56 points plus 8 goals, and Wikki Tourists 54 points plus 16 goals while FC Ifeanyi Uba has 53 points plus 4 goals.

They are potential suitors of the league diadem this season if any of them slumbers.

The most interesting but frightening game will be at MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta between league leaders, Rangers International FC of Enugu and already relegated Ikorodu United FC of Lagos. The late game spoilers from Lagos are talking tough, warning the Flying Antelopes to be ready to play a game of their life as they are ready to extend their 32 year old crown draught nightmare. This is the kind of match where the resilient spirit and pedigree of Rangers come into full reckoning, and the present crop of players are hell bent in reversing the  32 years old lack of laurel at the end of the  competition.

Interestingly, reports have it that the Governor Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi boys are not taking the threat with levity, as all hands are already on deck with the lavish motivation the team has received from His Excellency, which will enable the players squeeze water out of stone. That would effectively quench the sweltering fire in Abeokuta to move to the topmost cadre of the log.  The mouthwatering incentives rolled out by Governor Ugwuanyi are enough motivations, good enough for the lads to remain steadfast, focus and solid to face squarely the now or never battle of Abeokuta.

Of truth is that Rangers life depends solely on this match of wits and brawns. That is why it has been tagged a do or die affair by pundits because of the carriage of Ikorodu United lately.

The match holds the aces of the season. It will shape and redefine it appropriately. If Rangers wins  or draws the all-important match, then the coast will be clear for them. That is if it is otherwise for Rivers United, Wikki Tourists of Bauchi and FC Ifeanyi Uba that are eager to make history. The Coal City team’s last game for the season would be against visiting El-Kanemi of Maiduguri, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

This year’s league season, no doubt, has provided unique scenario where teams lost vital points at home, such posturing made it possible for this photo finish affair where there is no clue on who the winner is, two games to the end of the annual championship.

The only home advantage for this week seems to be the pairing between second placed Rivers United and Abia Warriors in Port Harcourt. The Warriors from Umuahia may prove book makers wrong at the end of the day. However, any of the four front runners that takes this injury time for granted will pay dearly for it.

For Wikki Tourists, it will take extra ordinary hard work and tighter match tactics to defeat the Oluyole Warriors in their Ibadan slaughter home. 3SC are like wounded lions, they are aware that if they out of any grudge allow this slip away, it won’t be to their advantage.

In Nnewi, the over ambitious FC Ifeanyi Uba will engage league champions, Enyimba International in a grudge encounter. This is one game the match officials must live up their billing of integrity because of what is at stake. The Nnewi game looks a drawn decider except if the two-time CAF Champions League back to back winners don’t value their prestige and pedigree in the arena.

Head or tail, the games involving the front runners and the clubs striving to beat relegation red line must be handled by referees with honour. Without mincing words, this is a trading period for the especially dubious referee in collaboration with NRA and NFF Referees committee officials where the highest bidder gets the fattest pound of flesh all in a bid for their teams to be crowned.

LMC is quite aware of this black leg and must ensure it guards against it, if the season must conclude without any hassle. This is legitimate request from fans. No more, no less!!

Source: News Express

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