The final two teams that will compete in next season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season will be known by this weekend when Group B of the second tier Nigerian National League reaches a climax.
Two teams – Kwara United and Yobe Desert Stars – have already emerged from the Northern Conference which came to a close over a fortnight ago. But two more teams must join them from the Southern Conference.
Like Kwara United in the North, Heartland FC (formerly known as Iwuanyawu Nationale) have dominated the Southern Conference but had their somewhat unassailable lead cut by the deduction of accrued points from the disbanded My People FC of Lagos.
Two more round of matches are left in the Southern Conference and they will be decided on Wednesday and Sunday.
As it stands, top of the table Heartland are in pole position to promote while second placed Go Round and third placed Bayelsa United will battle it out for the final promotion slot.
Mathematically, 4th and 5th placed sides Crown FC and Delta Force have a chance of promotion but realistically, the race is between the aforementioned trio.
Current NNL Table
Both Heartland and Go Round have tricky away fixtures against relegation-haunted sides on Wednesday but while Heartland can still afford to lose, Go Round cannot.
Heartland visit bottom of the table First Bank on Wednesday and the hosts know they still have an outside chance of escaping the drop. Go Round meanwhile travel to Nnewi United who are just one point above the drop zone.
Bayelsa United on their own host mid-table Papilo FC in their final home game of the season before traveling to perennial NNL side Osun United at the weekend.
Both Heartland and Go Round will once again be at home on the final day of the season against Delta Force and First Bank respectively.
To seal promotion, a win out of the final two games will ensure that. They are currently on 57 points, so three points in one of the two games means third place Bayelsa United, currently on 52 points cannot catch them even if they win their last two games.
To be assured of promotion, they must get at least a point at Nnewi United on Wednesday and win their last game against First Bank in Omoku.
They have 54 points at the moment and a further four points will take them to the most Bayelsa United can acquire which will then bring it down to goals difference.
United’s task is easily difficult. They must first win their last two games (at home to Papilo and away to Osun United) before praying that Go Round lose or fail to win at Nnewi United on Wednesday.
What they say
Ngozi Elechi (Go Round coach): Knowing that it may come down to goals difference, Elechi is hoping his wards will score well in their final two games.
“We will be looking for goals in Nnewi on Wednesday and if goals don’t come then we have to shock First Bank on the final day (at home),” he summed.
Ramson Madu (Heartland coach):
“We are in the NPFL already. We know what to do and that is what we will do. I believe in my team and at this point, I believe the job is done already.”