By Andrew Randa
For a long period, the 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season has been a two-way battle between 2017 champions Plateau United and Rivers United.
The two teams have been slugging it out until Rivers United opened a five-point gap, then seven, and it has now extended to 10 at the top of the log.
Powered by Chijioke Akuneto and Rafiu Ishaq’s goals, Rivers are top of the table with 70 points, 10 more than the nearest rivals, Plateau United. With five games left of the season, many pundits have already given the title to the Port-Harcourt side, considering they can wrap up the title with just two wins from their remaining games.
Only a monumental disaster by Rivers – a major one at that – will see Plateau sneak in, but they also have to probably win all their remaining games.
Despite the odds stacked against the Tin City team and the title that is looking to head to Port-Harcourt, not a few in Plateau United’s ranks feel the title race isn’t over yet.
Centre back Andrew Ikefe as well as forwards Jesse Akila and Nenrot Silas told www.npfl.ng that they are still hoping for a miracle and have not given up the chase – at least not yet.
“A 10-point gap is massive no matter how you look at it, but we will not give up yet. Football isn’t Mathematics, as you know. So we will keep pushing until it is impossible again” Ikefe enthused.
“We are still fighting, there is still hope, but we will only give up based on the outcome of the next two games, that is when we will feel it is over.
“For us, if we win our next home game (versus Gombe United), we are very sure of second place then after the next two we will know our fate, but we are not giving up”, he added.
Akila was also equivocal about his team’s title chances.
Having scored eight goals for Plateau United this season, Akila feels there is more to come from this season as the title has not been lost yet by his team
“We haven’t given up yet because mathematically we still have hope because I learnt Rivers have two away games,” he told www.npfl.ng. “We are hoping they drop points there, and then we see how it goes, but be rest assured that we are still fighting, “the forward further said.
Silas, who has been a mainstay in the team this season, also revealed that the mood in the team is one of hope as it isn’t over until it is over. “It is football, it is never over until it is over. There is always a chance, and that is what I believe. Despite how the table looks at the moment, we at Plateau United will continue to believe it is doable as we are still fighting for the title,” he added.
This weekend, Plateau United will contend with Gombe United in Jos while their title rivals Rivers United are away to Rangers in Awka.