Season ends with one more team to be relegated
Focus will be on six centres as the curtain is drawn on the 2021/22 season of the Nigeria Professional Football League this Sunday.
From either of two venues – Owerri and Ikenne-Remo – will emerge one of Nigeria’s two representatives in next season’s CAF Confederation Cup, while one of the other locations will produce the remaining team that will join MFM, Kano Pillars and Heartland in the unpleasant trip to the lower division. The centres are Uyo, Gombe, Aba and Kano.
In a dramatic turn of fate, the announcement on Saturday by the Appeals Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation that Pillars lost the appeal against points deduction ended the last hope of Sai Masu Gida to fight for survival on this last Matchday.
Remo Stars host Niger Tornadoes but will have their attention also focused at what goes on in Aba, where relegated Heartland tackle Kwara United, the only team challenging the Ikenne-Remo side for the third place on the log. Nigeria will be represented in the CAF Champions League by champions Rivers United and Plateau United, giving the allowance for No 3 to go for the CAF Confederation Cup together with the champions of the soon-to-commence Aiteo Cup.
Remo have an edge, as they sit a point above Kwara, and also play in front of their fans. Visiting Niger Tornadoes are virtually safe from relegation, and may therefore be less aggressive in this fixture.
Kwara United are in Owerri seeking victory and hoping Remo disappoint in order to finish at No 3. Hosts Heartland have only pride to play for as only an unlikely can reverse their misfortune. Between Abia Warriors – the last team in the safe zone – and Heartland, there is a gap of three points. But goal difference is Heartland’s undoing as there is a huge 20-goal the Naze Millionaires have to cancel, plus other results going their way to remain in the top flight.
Dakkada FC lead the teams in the relegation zone and host Sunshine Stars who are neither in trouble nor chasing continental football. If Dakkada triumph, which is the result they need, they will still have to watch out for results in other centres.
One of such locations is Gombe where Wikki Tourists welcome Katsina United. Wikki’s situation is the same as Tornadoes’, while Katsina United need maximum points to guarantee survival.
Lobi Stars are level on points with Tornadoes and Wikki, but fall short on goal difference. For Lobi, it’s the wrong time to visit Aba and hope to rattle Abia Warriors. The Warriors are in trouble. Anything short of victory will spell doom.
If Shooting Stars desire to stay on in the NPFL, they must show character in Kano while playing relegated Pillars. The Oluyole Warriors have only two points above the drop zone.