Epic battles end 2020/21 Nigerian League season
By China Acheru
Akwa United had already been announced as winners of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) going into the last day of games. This was courtesy of their 5-2 penultimate MatchDay win against MFM in Uyo.
Despite this, there was not a single shine taken away from the last round of games as there were telling encounters at the top and bottom.
Five clubs, Nasarawa United, Kano Pillars, Rivers United, Enyimba and Kwara United still had something to say about finishing in top three, but whatever result they got would depend on other outcomes.
Only Nasarawa United, though, needed an outright win to finish in second place and grab the remaining CAF Champions League place.
Rivers United needed to win in Akure, thereby relegating Sunshine Stars, while Enyimba needed to win at Dakkada FC with the hope that both Rivers United and Kano Pillars fail to win their games. Kano Pillars were away to Heartland FC.
Kwara United had the most difficult task of winning at home to Katsina United and hoping Rivers Enyimba and Kano Pillars do not win.
How it went at the top
At the end of Match Day 38 fixtures, it was Enyimba who won the day, winning 3-1 at Dakkada FC. Anayo Iwuala got a brace in the 11th and 78th minutes, Musa Bashiru pulled one back in the 29th minute, when it was 2-0 following Samad Kadiri’s second goal for Enyimba in the 25th minute. Enyimba finished 2nd on the table.
Kwara United leapfrogged, Rivers United, Kano Pillars and Nasarawa United into 3rd place following their 3-0 win over Katsina United. Ayobami Junior 22’, Michael Ohanu 63’, Steven Jude 74’ (PEN) were the goalscorers for Kwara United.
In Okigwe, Nasarawa United fell like a pack of cards losing their second spot and falling out of a place in Africa from the League. Abia Warriors thrashed them 3-1. Chukwuemeka Obioma opened scores in the 7th minute before Daniel Wotlai made it two after 45 minutes. Fatai Abdullahi converted a penalty for Abia Warriors in the 90th minute before Silas Nwankwo pulled one back.
Kano Pillars lost 1-0 at Heartland to a Kelechi Chimezie 16th minute strike to drop out of contention.
How it went at the bottom
Two relegation spots were already taken by the start of the final day of games as Adamawa United and FC IFeanyiUbah had sealed their places in the lower leagues.
Wolves would only survive the drop if they win at FC IFeanyiUbah and Rivers United get a good result in Akure against Sunshine Stars.
Jigawa Golden Stars would also have to win at the Soccer Temple in Agege against MFM FC to be safe.
Jigawa Golden Stars were effectively relegated after they lost 2-0 to MFM at the Soccer Temple while Sunshine Stars survived the drop with a 1-0 win over Rivers United. The 1-0 win ruling Rivers United out of a place on the continent.
Battle for the Golden Boot
Nasarawa United striker Silas Nwankwo and Akwa United forward Charles Atshimene are locked neck on neck at the top scorers chart and will be looking to move clear of each other on the final day.
Both players had 18 goals after impressive league campaigns and were on the road on the final day of the season, to make their task more daunting.
Silas Nwankwo scored in his side’s (Nasarawa United’s) 3-1 loss at Abia Warriors, while Charles Atshimene also scored in his side’s (Akwa United) 2-1 loss in Makurdi to Lobi Stars. Both ended the season on 19 goals.
Full Match day 38 results
MFM 2-0 Jigawa Stars
Lobi 2-1 Akwa Utd
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Rivers Utd
Dakkada 1-3 Enyimba
Rangers 1-0 Plateau Utd
Abia Warriors 3-1 Nasarawa Utd
Kwara Utd 3-0 Katsina Utd
Wikki 2-0 Adamawa Utd
Heartland 1-0 Kano Pillars
FC Ifeanyiubah 1-0 Wolves