NPFL Matchday 21 Roundup: Kano Pillars Secures Spot In Super 6 Play-Off

NPFL Wrap-up

NPFL Wrap-up

Ruthless Kano Pillars completed the double over visiting Delta Force with a 3-0 bashing in a Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Matchday 21 decided at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, Concise News reports.

The league giants had previously won the reverse fixture 2-0.

Skipper Rabiu Ali converted from the penalty spot 19 minutes after kickoff following a foul on AlHassan Ibrahim in the box by Emmanuel Ampiah.

The goal helped in building the confidence level of the Kano club after wasting some glaring opportunities at the inception.

Nyima Nwagua fired a shot wide from close range in the second minute after he was picked out with a delivery by Auwalu Ali Malam.

Five minutes later, Delta Force almost went in front through Ekong Christian, his goal-bound move was thwarted as Emmanuel Anyanwu stretched to deny the well-positioned striker.

Nwagua had also flicked wide a long throw-in by Madaki before Rabiu Ali sent a curler from 30 yards which was kept out by goalkeeper Henry Ani.

Uzoma Eziukwu headed a chance wide on 21 minutes as Delta Force built towards a comeback. The delivery came from Anayo Iwuala whose crafty kept Chris Madaki busy in Kano Pillars’ left-back position.

However, the visitors squandered their best opportunity when Philip Ozor unleashed his bullet from a rebound, only for the attempt to crash against the woodwork after goalkeeper Idrissu Ibrahim was beaten.

Another attempt came off the woodwork but this time it was Kano Pillars’ Auwalu Ali Malam that nearly doubled his side’s lead before Nwagua fails to hit the target from the rebound.

Kano Pillars returned from the break with two quick-fire goals. Auwalu Ali Malam doubled their lead two minutes after the resumption, while substitute Yusuf Maigoro made it 3-0 with his first touch on arrival.

Maigoro received a cross from Ali Malam before curling home from 35 yards on 57 minutes to beat Ani who was already out of his six-yard box.

The result means that Pillars have secured a spot in the NPFL Super 6 play-off.

They currently occupy the second position on the Group B table with 37 points from 21 games, one point adrift of leaders Akwa United.

Their next game is against Abia Warriors in Umuahia on Sunday 26 May.

MFM FC keep the hope alive

MFM FC put life into their aspiration of reaching the title playoff in the NPFL with a 2-1 win over Katsina United at the Agege Stadium, Lagos on Monday.

A match in which MFM wasted a handful of chances had to be settled by a classic injury time beauty.

Substitute Michael Ohanu came on wearing the number 9 as the man to get the goal, but instead, he was a superb creator of a much-needed winner. Ohanu dribbled his way down the flank and his cross was inch perfect to the height and approach of full back, Jonathan Zikiye who nodded firmly past a despairing Danjuma Paul.

The late winner, which arrived four minutes into the extra five given, was the least MFM deserved from a determined play, even though Katsina United were for many moments, very plucky opponents. One such moment was the equaliser, a header by their captain, Timothy Danladi which was as good as it was in many wise, unexpected. That was five minutes after the restart.

MFM had gone into the break a goal up through a beautiful effort by Adeniji Kabir. He timed his run to perfection, brought the ball down with his chest and neatly placed it beyond the reach of Paul.

If those were moments of quality, it was generally a day of utter frustration for MFM striker, Chijioke Akuneto. He could have had a hat-trick. He booted high Balogun Alade’s cross from six yards, was denied with a fingertip by Paul and when he had the beating of the goalkeeper, the goal post refused him.

It took a substitute to create the most telling moment of the match for a defender who hardly mattered going forward. But the beauty of the winner was so good, it had players and officials of MFM jubilating after the match had ended as they finished their home games with a flourish and did their hopes of making the top six no harm.

Gombe United defeats Heartland FC 1-0

Gombe United Football Club on Monday defeated visiting Heartland FC of Owerri 1-0 in a 2018/2019 NPFL Group B fixture.

The hosts secured the lone goal in the 73rd minute of Match Day 21 fixture through Yusuf Abdulazeez who headed in Isaac Success pass from the corner kick.

NAN reports that with the victorious Gombe United moved to 27 points from 21 matches, ahead of their next match against Go Round FC in Omoku (Rivers) scheduled for Sunday.

At the post-match briefing, the Chief Coach of Heartland Owerri, Ramson Madu said it was a painful loss for his team, adding that they missed every opportunity to secure the three points.

Madu who emphasised that his boys missed a lot of goals, said the officiating was wonderful.

He, however, decried the harassment of the referee by the fans who made attempts to enter the field of play, adding that such was not good for football development in Nigeria.

He also stressed that their next match against El-Kanemi Warriors on Sunday must be a win.

On his part, coach Ladan Bosso of Gombe United FC said their plans worked out perfectly.

Bosso said “We planned for three points and we have just gotten it. Our next plan is to go away and get the three points.

“If we do that, I assure everyone, we are going to remain in the premier.”

Reacting to a penalty claim by his team in the first half, he said it remained a claim since the referee’s decision was final.

“It is left for the referee to decide and his decision was that it is not a penalty and later he said it was a mistake.

“ They (referees) make mistakes, it is normal but it (the penalty) remains a claim,” he said.

Lawal’s late strike rescues Nasarawa Utd from home defeat

Striker Abubakar Lawal’s late strike was enough to earn Nasarawa United Football Club a 2-2 draw and rescue them from a home defeat against Go Round Football Club on Monday.

In the Group B fixture, the watching massive crowd at the Lafia Township Stadium was well thrilled though.

NAN reports that in spite of drawing goalless against Kano Pillars the last time at home, Nasarawa United again failed to rise to expectations.

They failed to inspire a convincing performance that would have secured them a win, thereby leaving in frustration the home fans.

The home side began sluggishly and were punished by Joshua Useni who pounced on a loose ball in the hosts’ penalty area to score and put the away side ahead.

After the half time break, Nasarawa United mounted pressure on the away side in a bid to equalise and duly got the equaliser in the 66th minute through Ibrahim Sanusi.

He received a pass from Lawal at the edge of the penalty area to then place the ball at the right-hand corner of the Go Round FC net.

NAN reports that the home side pushed aggressively for a winner, but were punished by Go Round FC who made good use of a counter attack and scored through Nwogbaga Chiebonan in the 77th minute to lead again.

All efforts to draw level were thwarted by a resolute defence until the 95th minute when Lawal capitalised on a loose ball in the penalty area to blast home.

Speaking to newsmen after the match, Willie Udube, Technical Adviser of Go Round FC, said his boys played with fear throughout the encounter because the environment was hostile towards them.

“They were playing with fear. When you come to an environment without proper security, that is what happens.

“They are human beings. We are not supposed to be at this stage now. South African league was like this before but they had a rethink.

“We have dropped points at home and nothing happened. Nobody touched the referee or intimidated the opposition. That is the mentality we want everyone to have.

“We drew three matches and lost one. Nothing happened. So why not we replicate that mentality in other venues so that people will be happy to watch matches.

“But I thank God we got a good result here because I believe this is a push for the team to come out of the relegation zone.

“We will go back and adopt a new strategy that will get us better results,” Udube said.

NAN reports that the home team’s performance prompted some angry fans to demand the resignation of Isaac Danladi as Nasarawa United FC Chairman.

Abia Warriors keep survival aspiration alive with draw at Akwa United

Abia Warriors brightened their chances of beating the drop with a hard-fought 2-2 draw away to Akwa United at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Monday.

With Akwa United already through to the playoff, it was expected the team would drop some of their key players in preparation for the tourney. Ndifreke Effiong was not part of the matchday squad, as a result of the condition that facilitated his transfer to the Uyo side.

The visitors kept faith with 10 of the 11 players who were part of the team that defeated El-Kanemi Warriors on Matchday 20. The only alteration was Anthony Okemmiri replacing Paul Samson.

Abia Warriors took the lead, just moments before the half hour, when Fatai Abdullahi finished off a scintillating teamwork, 15 yards off, to set the tone for what would be a pulsating fixture.

The home side responded quickly on 31 minutes when Godspower Aniefiok guided Wisdom Fernando’s brilliant cross past Joshua Enaholo for the equalizer, both sides would settle for the spoils as the first half came to an end.

With nine minutes to time, Abia Warriors went in front again. Substitute Obi Samson got to the end of a poorly directed pass, to slide in between Akwa defenders, before squeezing past goalkeeper, Emmanuel Iwu.

Akwa United rallied late, to avert a repeat of their Matchday 1 defeat at home to El-Kanemi Warriors. Substitute Ocheme Edoh raced ahead of others to head home Aniefiok Godspower’s cross from close range to level terms. It was Ocheme’s first goal of the campaign.

The result keeps Akwa United top of the Group B log with 38 points, one better than Kano Pillars, going into the final day of the regular season.

Abia Warriors also moved a place above the relegation zone, with hopes of beating the drop on Matchday 22 when they host Kano Pillars at the Umuahia Township Stadium.

Rangers pips Rivers Unites 1-0 in Enugu

Rangers FC of Enugu finished the abridged NPFL with a record of unbeaten home victory after beating Rivers United FC 1-0 on Monday in Enugu.
Chidera Eze scored the only goal of the encounter in the 85th minute.
Speaking during a post-match conference, Rangers gaffer Olugbenga Ogunbote said the club had no option than to finish the league professionally.
”We lost to them in their home so we were determined to beat them and Rangers is a professional club.
”The players knew that we do not need to lose or even draw but to win and is better we leave it late where they cannot fight back,” the gaffer said.
Ogunbote noted that the club’s attention still remains on the super six championships as it wants to pick a ticket for the continental championship.
Rangers Captain Godwin Aguda expressed joy over the victory noting that he had a sleepless night when the club lost 3-0 to Rivers United in the first leg.

”I am happy that we take our own pound of flesh from them and now, all tension shift to super six.

”We must finish the good job we started in the super six because Rangers deserved continental competitions next year.
”Our joy will only be complete when we finish well at the super six and probably lift the trophy,” Aguda said.

Kwara United beat Remo Stars for some succour

Relegation-threatened Kwara United Football Club of Ilorin on Monday defeated visiting Remo Stars FC of Sagamu 2-1 in a lacklustre game.

NAN reports that the Match Day 21 fixture in the abridged 2018/2019 NPFL was played at the Kwara Stadium Complex in Ilorin.

Both teams played as if nothing was at stake, with the tempo of the game very low in the early stages of the encounter, while the visitors enjoyed more possession.

NAN reports that Kwara United players and officials had earlier in the day protested at the state’s Ministry of Finance to press home demand for their unpaid salaries and other entitlements.

Kwara United began the game slowly and allowed Remo Stars to dominate possession from the flanks with Victor Mbaoma tormenting the hosts defence occasionally.

The hosts returned for the second stanza of the match now much better than the visitors with the introduction of Abdulrasaq Alamoyo and Abubakar Chindo to add bite upfront.

Abdullateef Ishola in goal for Kwara United made a big save in the 58th minute from an Mbaoma’s header but conceded corner in the process.

Mbaoma again timed himself in the 59th minute to connect Omotayo Adebogun’s corner kick but blasted over the bar in the box.

Onwuasonaya Uche broke the deadlock in the 74th minute when his deflected curling effort went straight into the visitors’ net.

The hosts seemed to had found their rhythm as they pressed for more goals and were rewarded once more through a well-taken a long-range effort in the 79th minute of play by substitute Abdulrasaq Alamoyo.

The young attacker measured his effort when he noticed that Remo Stars goalkeeper, Emmanuel Fabiyi was off his line and he lobbed the ball above him to make it 2-0.

Remo Stars’ captain, Mbaoma reduced the tally in the extra time when he timed Adebogun’s low cross and tapped in from close range to make it 2-1.

Kwara United Chief Coach, Suleiman Ashifat, said the team would continue to fight to the end because there was plenty to play for on the last day of the season.

His Remo Stars counterpart, Precious Ogunmode, said they would also continue to fight for the badge even though they were relegated already.

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Ridwan is a trained communicator who specialises in football and squash. He has been published by African Examiner. He provides professional coverage of general news, politics and sports, and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first Nigerian interview with South Africa's no. 1 male squash player, Jean-Pierre Brits. He is a proud Nigerian and campaigner for #NigeriaIsOurs.

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