The 2017/18 Nigeria Professional Football League season will commence on Saturday, January 13. The buzz, the fever, the fears and the excitement are already renting the airwaves. The rants and wails on social media are also gathering up, good pointers that another football season is here.
Last season served a few surprises especially in the uppermost parts of the league table. Plateau United secured their first ever title while MFM FC finished second in what was a historic fairytale run by the Church side. Former Champions Shooting Stars eventually relegated after escaping narrowly in the two previous seasons.
This season, the stakes are higher. Teams are reinforced to the extent of having as much as new dozens of players per team. Virtually the best coaches in the land have clubs to manage and that sets the tone for a competitive season.
Here are some of my predictions for the new season:
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The first six match days will be affected or effected by the African Nations Championships in Morocco. Key players for some of the clubs and El-Kanemi’s coach Imama Amapakabo will be missed by their clubs. It is during this period that I believe the Nigerian league is won.
I am going for Rivers United to emerge champions of the 2017/18 NPFL. They are backed by the limitless purse of the state government and the fact that there are no continental distractions this term should help Stanley Eguma’s team to the title.
Rivers will be pushed by El-Kanemi Warriors, coached by their son Imama Amapakabo while Gbenga Ogunbote’s Rangers and Nasarawa United will have their say on matters in the upper half of the table.
Four of them will be on the continent again this year. I believe at least one of the quartet will make it to the group stage of their competitions.
Enyimba, with their bye (in CAF CC) have the biggest chance but MFM FC also have my backing when they face MC Alger in the last elimination round.
Plateau United are not going anywhere, we know that, don’t we? And for Akwa United, I believe they will come short on the continent once again.
As witnessed in the past two seasons, the newly promoted sides are always favourites to return to where they came from.
Hence, at least two of the newly promoted teams should be ready to go back to the second tier. Yobe Desert Stars are the first name to be suggested for relegation and Heartland FC are the second.
Go-Round‘s brand of football may just save them provided Kwara United joins the aforementioned duo.
Pray for MFM FC because Holy Ghost doesn’t win matches, players and money do. The more they play in the continental games, the more dangerous it is for them to remain in the league. They, alongside Katsina United and Wikki Tourists hold the key to the final relegation slot.
I believe it will be a miracle for Plateau United’s coach Kennedy Boboye to avoid sack this new season. There has always been chaos in the camp of league champions in recent years.
Katsina United’s Abdullahi Biffo, Wikki’s Bala Nikyu and sack-favourite Erasmus Onuh are also sure contenders to get the boot. Heartland’s Ramson Madu is also unsafe from get go.
A reminder that these are forecast and have nothing personal to do with any person or club in the write-up above and hence should not be taken personal.
What are your own thoughts or predictions on the season? Let’s have it in the comments section.