Super4 throws up indicators for continental-bound clubs

By China Acheru

The 2016/17 NPFL Super4 tournament reached a climax last Sunday in Enugu after five days of football buzz in the Coal City.

The three matchdays served us with some gruelling stuff and a high intensity among all participants.

In all, exactly ten goals were scored in the six matches decided across three matchdays.

Indeed, it was a competition that confirmed the superiority of Nigeria's CAF Champions League representatives to those at the Confederation Cup.

Out of the ten goals scored in the competition, the reigning league champions, Rangers and fellow Champions League campaigners, Rivers United recorded three goals apiece leaving the two Confederation Cup hopefuls Wikki Tourists and FC Ifeanyi Ubah with two goals each.

The return of an average of just over one goal per game is obviously a sour point for the Super4 but it can be also be said to be that the teams took the competition seriously.

Apart from the three goals scored by both Rangers and Rivers United, both teams finished tops at the end of the tournament.

Rivers United had the dignity of winning the tournament by amassing six points from three games but Rangers had this scant consolation of ending the tournament unbeaten - the only team to have such record.

Rivers United put their top signings on display permanently in the tournament with the quartet of defenders Ifeanyi Nweke, Gabriel Wassa, midfielders Esosa Igbinoba and Nzube Anaezemba all featuring prominently in all their three matches.

These players were very crucial to every good thing United did at the tournament and helped their class to show when they recorded their two victories over Confederation Cup hopeful FC Ifeanyiubah and Wikki Tourists.

For Rangers, coach Imama Amapakabo has received plaudits (and rightly so) for using the competition for the purpose with which it was established.

The Rivers state-born coach paraded no fewer than 26 players throughout the tournament, a move that allowed him assess properly new players coming into his fold such as Charles Henlong, Bright Silas, Chizoba Amaefule and Osamudiamen Adun among others.

While it can be argued that Rangers drew against both Confederation Cup oppositions, a closer look beyond the surface suggests that they were quite easy games that Rangers should have won on their day.

With no disrespect to the fight that FC Ifeanyiubah put up in the last game of the competition, Rangers could have honestly wrapped up the title in their second game against Wikki had Imama not chosen the path that would benefit his team on the long run (changing the entire starting eleven) other than a temporary joy that winning the Super4 might bring.

For neutrals that witness the Super4 tournament, both CAF Champions League campaigners (Rangers and Rivers United) served up good things to hope for next year while for the Confederation Cup hopeful especially FC Ifeanyiubah, a lot needs to be done to keep them in the same pace that the rest are.

They can be forgiven for such displays at the tournament given the short time they have had to rest owing to the belated Federation Cup final, but there will be no forgiveness when the New Year comes.

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