Former CAF Confederation Cup semi-finalists Enyimba FC and Sunshine Stars recorded crucial wins with huge ramifications on final day of the 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season on Sunday.
With both sides needing victories and hoping results at other venues go their ways to achieve their respective targets, they did just that. Enyimba recorded their sixth away win of the season – the most of any side in the league – in a 1-3 win at Dakkada FC in Uyo.
Winger Anayo Iwuala scored twice for the People’s Elephant en route to the win which guaranteed them a place in continental football next season. Striker Samad Kadiri also scored his second goal of the season, coming after scoring on Match Day 1 against Abia Warriors.
At the lower rung of the ladder, Sunshine Stars completed their miraculous escape from relegation with a critical 1-0 win over Rivers United in Akure. Goalscoring defender Ejike Uzoechi headed home the game’s only goal early on with Sunshine further helped by South West rivals MFM FC who defeated Jigawa Golden Stars 2-0 in Lagos.
Talking of help, Abia Warriors helped themselves as well as sister side Enyimba when they defeated Nasarawa United 3-1 at the Okigwe Stadium. Goals from Chukwuemeka Obioma, Daniel Wotlai and Fatai Abdullahi gave Warriors full marks while league’s joint topscorer Silas Nwankwo added the consolation for his side.
Charles Atshimene also scored for Akwa United in Makurdi to ensure he finishes the season level with Nwankwo on top of the scorers’ chart but the league Champions lost only their fifth game of the season in the 1-2 loss to hosts Lobi Stars at the Aper Aku Stadium.
At the end of the season, Adamawa United, FC Ifeanyiubah, Warri Wolves and Jigawa Golden Stars are the four sides relegated to the second tier Nigeria National League (NNL).
There was a twist to the continental discussion however when the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Disciplinary Committee overturned the League Management Company (LMC)’s earlier decision to throw out Rivers United’s protest against Jigawa Golden Stars who fielded an ineligible player in their Match Day 34 encounter in Kaduna.
The verdict which awards three goals and three points in the game to Rivers United means that the Port Harcourt based side finishes second on the log subject to a further appeal of the judgment.
Kwara United’s emphatic 3-0 win over Katsina United provisionally took them to third spot while Heartland’s 1-0 win over Kano Pillars in Owerri condemned Sai Masu Gida to fifth on the log.
In a game of no consequence, Ibrahim Olawoyin scored what could turn out to be a perfect Valedictory gift for Rangers International in their 2-0 home win over Plateau United. He came off the bench in the 42nd minute before scoring a brilliant curler in the second half, his and the club’s last goal this term.
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MD 38 RESULTS
MFM 2-0 Jigawa Stars
Lobi 2-1 Akwa Utd
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Rivers Utd
Dakkada 1-3 Enyimba
Rangers 1-0 Plateau Utd
Abia Warriors 3-1 Nasarawa Utd
Kwara Utd 3-0 Katsina Utd
Wikki 2-0 Adamawa Utd
Heartland 1-0 Kano Pillars
FC Ifeanyiubah 1-0 Wolves