The registration of the team that will represent Nigeria in next season’s CAF Confederation through the Nigeria Professional Football League has again been delayed. What changed between the last Matchday and now is that the list of contenders for that slot has now been reduced to just two as the teams go into the last Matchday next Sunday. That candidate will be either Remo Stars or Kwara United.
Remo Stars will host Niger Tornadoes on the last day, while Kwara United will travel to Owerri to take on Heartland. Both sides are separated by just one point. Remo will be seeking a first chance at the continent, but Kwara had been there twice. In 1999, the Ilorin side reached the quarterfinals of the now defunct CAF Cup, and were back in 2007 when they exited at the group phase of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Remo Stars achieved their third away win of the outgoing season. And what a crucial victory it was in Akure! One goal by Dayo Ojo in the 59th minute brought the result against Sunshine Stars to keep Remo Stars in the third spot going into their last match.
In Ilorin, Kwara United did themselves some good by getting the desired outcome against hapless MFM. Fifteen minutes into the game, Junior Lokosa opened the way for the Harmony Boys, while Issa Gata added another three minutes later. Samad Kadiri wrapped it all over in the 85th minute as he followed up a rebound effort from Fatokun’s freekick.
The other focus of Matchday 37 was the relegation battle. MFM had already lost out, and so there were three more slots to fill. In the end, only Heartland crashed out leaving the other two relegated teams to be decided on the last day of the season.
Heartland had some relief when Nnamdi Egbujuo slotted in the first goal of the match in the 80th minute. But the Naze Millionaires could only hold on to that advantage for two minutes as Ifeanyi Okoye cancelled the lead, while he made it a brace in the 90th minute to win the game for Tornadoes. That result resulted in Heartland not been able to wriggle out of danger even on the last Matchday, while Tornadoes took two steps up to No 11 – and safety.
Pillars sunk into the bottom four as they suffered a lone goal defeat to hosts Nasarawa United, no thanks to Emmanuel Ogbole’s goal in the 68th minute. That came form Chinedu Ohanachom’s assist from a cross.
Dakkada achieved the seemingly impossible in Aba beating Enyimba, but they still find themselves in the danger zone. Enyimba had only lost to Rangers and Sunshine Stars at home all season – each by a lone goal – but they got a worse result this time against the visitors from Uyo.
Dakkada scored both un-replied goals in the second half, the first by Arise Ogundare in the 56th minute, and the other by Edidiong Ezekiel in the last minute of normal time. The best that uncommon result did to Dakkada was to lift them from 19th to 16th spot, still the relegation zone.
Many teams pulled out of trouble. Katsina United gained two steps from 17th following the 2-0 result over Plateau United, who had already finished second, which was the same situation with Niger Tornadoes (from 13th to 11th) and Wikki Tourists (12th to 10th); while Nasarawa United (11th to 10th), Lobi Stars (14th to 13th) and Shooting Stars (15th to 14th) also made gains.
All the results: Akwa United 2-2 Abia Warriors, Enyimba 0-2 Dakkada FC, Gombe United 1-0 Rangers, Shooting Stars 3-2 Rivers United, Katsina United 2-0 Plateau United, Sunshine Stars 0-1 Remo Stars, Niger Tornadoes 2-1 Heartland, Kwara United 3-0 MFM, Lobi Stars 3-2 Wikki Tourists, Nasarawa United 1-0 Kano Pillars
Last Matchday: Heartland v Kwara United, Remo Stars v Niger Tornadoes, Dakkada FC v Sunshine Stars, Plateau United v Enyimba, Wikki Tourists v Katsina United, Abia Warriors v Lobi Stars, Rangers v Akwa United, Rivers United v Gombe United, Kano Pillars v Shooting Stars, MFM v Nasarawa United