The new Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season will commence as planned on Sunday, January 2019, but without the newly promoted teams, the League Management Company stated on Wednesday.
The 2018/19 league season has been held back for over a month following an impasse brought about by the second division Nigeria National League (NNL)’s intention to propose eight teams to the top flight as against their four allotted slots.
However, the NNL have reluctantly held their Super Eight playoffs which has now produced the four promoted teams for the next NPFL season. Insurance of Benin, Kada City of Kaduna, Remo Stars of Ode-Remo and Gombe United of Gombe all qualified and have been allotted the remaining spaces.
In a press release from the league organisers on Wednesday, Chief Operating Officer Salihu Abubakar however confirmed that some of the opening day matches would not hold as scheduled and are to be rescheduled for a later date.
The postponed fixtures are those involving the country’s representatives in CAF Club competitions (Lobi Stars and Rangers) and those involving the four promoted clubs from the NNL.
Following a mini-draw supervised by the LMC Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Nduka Irabor in Aba after the play-offs, Insurance took slot 1, Remo Stars in 2 while Gombe United and Kada City were in 3 & 4 respectively.
The mini-draw thus pitched Wikki Tourists against Insurance, Rivers United and Remo Stars, Yobe Desert Stars and Gombe United and Go Round FC to play Kada City.
Abubakar announced the decision of the League body to shift the matches, explaining that, “the games involving the promoted clubs from the NNL are being shifted to give the club’s time to return to their respective bases and make adequate plans to play in the NPFL”.
“It’s only fair that the players be allowed time to recover from the rigours of the tournament they just participated in and they would join from Match Day 2 while a new date will be announced for the postponed fixtures”, added Abubakar.
The other postponed games are those between Lobi Stars and Katsina United and between Rangers International and Niger Tornadoes. While Lobi are playing in the CAF Champions League, Rangers are campaigning in the CAF Confederation Cup and both clubs are in action this weekend.
MATCHDAY 1 (GROUP A)
January 13, 2019
Wikki Tourists vs Insurance (pp)
Rivers United vs Remo Stars (pp)
Rangers Int’l vs Niger Tornadoes (pp)
Lobi Stars vs Katsina United (pp)
Kwara United vs Sunshine Stars
Enyimba vs MFM FC
MATCHDAY 1 (GROUP B)
January 13, 2019
Yobe Desert Stars vs Gombe United (pp)
Go Round vs Kada City (pp)
Nasarawa United vs Abia Warriors
Plateau United vs FC Ifeanyiubah
Kano Pillars vs Heartland
Akwa United vs El-Kanemi Warriors