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NPFL: Akwa United open title defence

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Akwa United begin the defence of the title they won for the first time last season by hosting four-time champions Kano Pillars at the Nest of Champions, Uyo.

In attempting a second hurrah in the competition, Akwa United will not be distracted by continental competitions as they bowed out of the CAF Champions League in the very first round.

Only a week ago, the Promise Keepers played 1-1 with Kano Pillars on the final day of this year’s President Cup in Abuja. Pillars however won the tournament.

Both sides are expected to unleash the players acquired during the off season.

Akwa United triumphed by a lone goal in this same fixture in Uyo last season.

Rivers United, who were second last season, will be in Makurdi to face 2018 champions Lobi Stars.

Like Akwa United, Rivers United are also out of the continent and will have to focus on the domestic scene.

Just ousted from the CAF Confederation Cup on technical ground, Enyimba will be in a testy Abia derby at their Enyimba International Stadium in Aba.

Ex-national team winger Finidi George will be having his first taste of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) as manager. His outings with Enyimba have been in the CAF competition where he recorded three wins out of as many games.

To Enyimba’s advantage, they have won six times in their last six matches at home and away. Coach Imama Amakapabo has his job well cut out.

Apart from Remo Stars, who quashed MFM 2-0 in Lagos in the season’s opener on Friday night, three other teams will be making their bow upon their comeback to the top flight. Two of them – Gombe United and Shooting Stars – go head-to-head at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe, while Niger Tornadoes host Plateau United.

2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (Matchday 1): Gombe United v Shooting Stars, Akwa United v Kano Pillars, Lobi Stars v Rivers United, Sunshine Stars v Wikki Tourists, Niger Tornadoes v Plateau United, Kwara United v Dakkada FC, Heartland v Nasarawa United, Katsina United v Rangers, Enyimba v Abia Warriors (all 4 pm)

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