The final group games of the 2018 Nigeria National League (NNL) Super Eight playoffs going on in Aba will be decided on Wednesday. The games are going to be definitive in determining which teams secure the much coveted promotion to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
After two days of intense and exciting football hostilities at the Enyimba Stadium, none of the eight teams (four in each group) have secured promotion, including Bendel Insurance who are the only side to boast of a 100% record in the competition.
The die is now cast for the final group games which quite bizarrely are originally scheduled to hold one after the other, the way the first two group games were held. This is quite a recipe for disastrous controversy, capable of tearing into shreds the success recorded so far in terms of transparency and fairness.
Nigerian football is not foreign to such controversies which took a different dimension in July 2013 when four clubs involved in two play-off matches that ended 79-0 and 67-0 respectively – a total of 146 goals – were suspended by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
To refresh your memory briefly, Plateau United Feeders defeated Akurba FC 79-0 while Police Machine FC demolished Bubayero FC 67-0 in a race to qualify for the Nigeria Nationwide League (NLO).
Quickly, let us look at the current standings in both groups before going into the permutations for the final group stage games.
Our Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo has confirmed that goals difference will take preeminence over head-to-head in the tie-breakers.
Note: The top two teams from each Zone will gain promotion to the top flight.
1. Kada City: 4 points +3 GD
2. Gombe United: 4 points +1 GD
3. Real Stars: 1 point -1 GD
4. Kogi United: 1 point -3 GD
1. Insurance: 6 points +4 GD
2. Remo Stars: 3 points +2 GD
3. Shooting Stars: 3 points -1 GD
4. Delta Force: 0 point -5 GD
Original final group games fixtures
Kogi United vs Real Stars – 8AM
Gombe United vs Kada City – 2PM
Shooting Stars vs Insurance FC – 4PM
Delta Force vs Remo Stars – 6PM
From the above data, it can be deduced that nothing is cast in stone in both groups and all the four teams mathematically, (but) three teams realistically still have the chance to promote from each group.
– A DRAW between Gombe United and Kada City would see both teams promote with Gombe finishing second behind Kada on goals difference.
– Any result aside a draw in the Gombe/Kada game would leave the doors open for Real Stars should they beat Kogi United, depending on their score margin. Real Stars’ slim -1 difference offers them a ray of hope while Kogi’s -3 might have put paid to their ambitions.
Should Real Stars beat Kogi United sufficiently in the first game (which having seen them play, they are capable of), it would give the other two teams an unfair advantage of a foreknowledge of their result and probably settle for a draw. IT IS NOT DONE!
With Remo Stars and Shooting Stars on three points apiece, Insurance know that their six points have still not earned them an NPFL badge on the sleeves of their jerseys. Here is why:
– Should Shooting Stars beat Insurance by a three-goal margin, the Oluyole Warriors will automatically overtake Insurance on the standings and earn themselves outright promotion. This is because 3SC’s goals difference would go up to +2 while the three goals concession would deplete Insurance’s GD to +1.
– In the event of the result above, Insurance will then have to wait for the result between Remo Stars and Delta Force. Any sort of win by Remo would see them top the group because they are presently on +2. Failure to win by Remo will then hand the promotion slot to Insurance.
Very interesting scenario here you’d agree with me.
It is common knowledge that there is only one Stadium in the commercial city of Aba, South Eastern Nigeria – the Enyimba Stadium which has proved to be a good host for this playoffs. There however are one, two or three alternatives that could be utilised in nearby cities.
Umuahia is the capital city of Abia State inside which Aba is. The Umuahia Township Stadium js then the most convenient choice since the Stadium has hosted NPFL games in the past four football seasons. There will also not be the problem of logistics because the same State Football Association will be involved.
Additionally, there is the advantage of proximity as Aba to Umuahia is not more than forty (40) minutes on the current Nigerian road state.
The Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri is next in proximity to Aba after Umuahia while if the teams prefer a synthetic, wide playing surface, the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt – another NPFL ground – there, this can be a wild option I agree.
In conclusion, the NNL must avoid the temptation of further rubbing the ‘good’ name of Nigerian football in the mud by ensuring that Wednesday’s games are played simultaneously. A stitch in time saves nine.
Fisayo Dairo in Aba