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Rivers set to win NPFL title in Jos on Sunday

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This season’s title race in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) may be over next Sunday. The Matchday 35 fixture at the New Jos Stadium where Nasarawa United play their home matches will deliver the crown to Rivers United if the visiting side achieve at least the same result as chasing Plateau United, who will also be playing away to outgoing champions Akwa United. There will then be three games to end the season, and the Pride of Rivers would have maintained the 10-point gap they have established over Plateau United.

Plateau were expected to close the gap when Rivers ended their top clash with Rangers goalless on Saturday. But Plateau could not take advantage of that as Gombe made a short trip to Jos. Andrew Ikefe shot the home team ahead in the 60th minute to the delight of the fans. But Ibrahim Yahaya replied for Gombe 10 minutes later. Plateau United were thereafter frustrated for the rest of the match.

In the battle for third place – the last continental cup qualification – Remo Stars gained over Rangers who were pushed down to fourth for the Sky Blue Stars to occupy No 3 spot.

Sikiru Alimi waited for only 18 minutes to deliver the opening goal, which was retained until the end of the half. Back from break, Francis Odinaka drew level for Lobi Stars, who were desperate for points to survive relegation. Both Tolulope Ojo (64th minute) and Samuel Anakwe (76th minute) ensured victory for the home side.

Remo Stars are now a point ahead of Rangers and will travel to face Katsina United on Sunday, while the Flying Antelopes will be hosted by Kano Pillars.

Kwara United also remain in the hunt for third place as they have the same points as Rangers, thanks to Junior Lokosa 29th minute goal in Ilorin, which proved just enough to beat Sunshine Stars.

Shooting Stars conceded a penalty in the 90th minute in their match against Wikki Tourists in Bauchi. The visitors had gone ahead in the 53rd minute through Opeoluwa Olufemi. But Idris Guda stepped up to convert the crucial goal, which resulted from a handball by one of the visiting players in the box.

For struggling Dakkada FC, a 3-1 win in their derby against Akwa United is a boost to their fight against relegation. Goals from Etido Dan in the 42nd minute and Aniekan Ekpe 54th came in between Akwa’s equaliser through Samuel Amadi in the 39th. Edidiong Ezekiel extended Dakkada’s two-goal advantage three minutes to the end of regulation time.

That result threw Dakkada two steps up to the top of the relegation four, and on the same point with Lobi Stars, who only have goal difference advantage.

MFM also did themselves a favour by beating their guests Enyimba 2-1. The result left the Olukoya Boys at the foot of the table but now four points from safety going into their last four matches.

Enyimba’s Victor Mbaoma justified his rating by speakers at the maiden NPFL Twitter Space last week as the most likely hotshot of the season by shooting his side ahead in the 52nd minute. That was Mbaoma’s Goal No 16 this season, which drew him level with the season’s top scorer Chijioke Akuneto of Rivers United. Gombe United’s Abdulaziz Yusuf has 15 goals.

Oladayo Alabi converted from the spot in the 64th minute, while Nduka David delivered the maximum points 11 minutes later.

Matchday 34 results: Dakkada FC 3-1 Akwa United, Remo Stars 3-1 Lobi Stars, Kwara United 1-0 Sunshine Stars, Wikki Tourists 1-1 Shooting Stars, Plateau United 1-1 Gombe United, MFM 2-1 Enyimba, Abia Warriors 3-2 Kano Pillars, Heartland 1-0 Katsina United, Rangers 0-0 Rivers United, Niger Tornadoes 1-0 Nasarawa United

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