STATS TALK: Halfway outlook of 2019/20 NPFL season
By Ayobami Animashaun
The 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season is already half way and the games have left fans at the edge of their seats across major fronts. Ranging from the pulsating race for the top position to the avalanche of away wins, the first stanza is one with several talking points. But how about we carefully examine the stats outlook of few of them?
The away performances of certain teams have sparked interesting conversation about the possibility of breaking the record of total away wins in a season. Debutants, Dakkada FC, have hit the elite division by storm, losing just one away game (against MFM FC) in the first half of the season. Interestingly, a record number of teams (15) have already recorded at least one away win after an incomplete first round of matches this season. With 23 away wins already, perhaps, there is a huge prospect of eclipsing the 31-away wins record set in 2015 season.
DISPARITY IN HOME AND AWAY PERFORMANCES
Despite the away brilliance of most teams this season, some have only benefited from their home performance than others. A solid home record is usually the foundation of any successful campaign for a team, and it is not surprising the following teams have thrived on such background.
FC Ifeanyiubah are currently placed 12th on the NPFL standings and the Anambra Warriors occupy the position largely based on their imperious home form, which is a sharp contrast from results in their travels. Perhaps, head coach Uche Okagbue needs to tweak their away form in order to fully explore the benefits of their home form.
Research has shown that the team leading the NPFL standings at mid-season in eight of the last 10 seasons went on to finish the season atop the log (N.B. The considered 10 campaigns excluded abridged 2019 season, but included the abruptly ended 2018 season).
In 2015, Enyimba were placed second behind Sunshine Stars only on goal difference after the end of the season’s first stanza but the People’s Elephant eventually lifted the title with the Owena Whales finishing sixth – no thanks to a run of just two wins in their final seven matches of the season.
The following season had Wikki Tourists lead the log mid-way through until a fifth-placed Rangers went on rampage in the second half of the campaign to win their seventh NPFL title while the Bauchi-based club succumbed to a third place finish.
The templates are hereby tendered for Lobi Stars, Plateau United, Rivers United, Sunshine Stars, Enyimba and possibly any other team interested in lifting the highly coveted league title at the end of the season.
Interestingly, the battle is heated up in bottom half of the league standings too. In the last 10 seasons (excluding the 2018 season), an average of two teams in the relegation zone at halfway into the campaign ended up in the second division after the season. These facts and stats have shaped up what is bound to be an action-packed second half of the 2019/20 season.