Sports

NPFL Matchday 19 Round-up: Insurance Conquer Sporting Lagos, Remo Stars Defeat Abia Warriors in Ikenne

The 2023/2024 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) season has reached its first stanza following actions in different centres over the weekend.

Bendel Insurance clinched a 3-1 success over struggling Sporting Lagos at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City. Junior Osaghae commenced the victory run for Insurance after netting in the 33rd minute and Chukwudi Meze made it a two-goal cushion five minutes later, then Divine Nwachukwu stressed it to three in the hour mark, while Henry Ndedi reduced the deficit for Paul Offor’s side in the 92nd minute. Monday Odigie’s men after the win are 7th on 30 points – and the Noisy Lagosians with an outstanding game can be found in 18th having amassed 18 points.

Daniel Ogunmodede’s Remo Stars defeated Abia Warriors 2-1 in Ikenne. Dela Akorli registered his first goal for Remo through Ismail Sodiq’s cross nine minutes into the game and Ahmed Akinyele increased the lead after 63 minutes but Sunday Megwo pulled one back for the visitors six minutes later. The Sky Blues Stars are second placed with 35 points, while Abia sits 9th on 26 points.

Enyimba had a good outing, securing a 2-1 triumph at Lekan Salami Stadium against Shooting Stars. Chijioke Mbaoma gave the People’s Elephant the lead from a spot kick in the 56th minute, though Kareem Ademola restored parity with his seventh goal of the campaign in the 83rd minute – and Chibueze Izuogu grabbed a late winner for Finidi George’s side. Gbenga Ogunbote’s Oluyole Warriors have played a game less and are currently 11th on 23 points; and Enyimba, also with a game yet to be played occupies third on the standings after gathering 32 points.

In a related development, Kano Pillars trumped Heartland in a similar scoreline at the Sani Abacha Stadium. Idris Saidu opened the scoring in the 49th minute to put Pillars in front – and veteran, Rabiu Ali doubled the lead after slotting in a penalty with five minutes left on the clock. Similarly, Clement Ogbobe registered the Naze Millionaires’ goal on the stroke of full-time. Pillars have garnered 32 points in 5th and Heartland with a game less are bottom on 16 points.

Kwara United came out victorious versus Sunshine Stars in a slim one nil win in front of their fans. Emmanuel Ogbole’s goal in the 15th minute made the difference for the hosts. The Harmony Boys who have an outstanding match are 13th (22 points), whereas the Akure Gunners managed by Edith Agoye have same points in 12th and have played all games thus far.

Ubong Friday’s 77th minute penalty secured three points for Akwa United as they welcome Enugu Rangers to Eket Stadium. Akwa, with the sobriquet ‘the Promise Keepers’ can be seen in 15th (21 points) and Fidelis Ilechukwu’s Flying Antelopes.with a game in hand are 10th after accumulating 25 points.

At the Lafia Township Stadium, Lobi Stars beat Plateau United by a lone goal – and the decider was recorded by Suur Kumaga in the 23 minute. Lobi, popularly known as the Pride of Benue are top of the log on 36 points; and Mbwas Mangut’s Plateau takes the sixth place with 31 points.

Akinade Onigbinde’s Doma United and Rivers United played out a one-all draw in Gombe (Pantami Stadium). Stanley Eguma’s side scored the opener through Bernard Yao Kouassi before half-time break, and Nelson Abiam nicked a point for Doma with an acrobatic kick in the 94th minute. The Savannah Tigers are fourth on the table (32 points), though the Pride of Rivers have four matches yet to take place, thus 14th on 21 points.

Gombe United and Bayelsa United shared the spoils in a 1-1 result. Victor Aworji registered an own goal as early as five minutes to see Bayelsa in control, but it was cancelled out Umar Abba in the 29th minute. Gombe (the Savannah Scorpions) have 21 points in 17th and the Restoration Boys are battling relegation in 19th with 18 points.

It was a scoreless affair in Katsina United’s visit to Niger Tornadoes at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna. Mohammed Hussaini had a glorious chance to make it count for Tornadoes via penalty in the first half but he failed to bury the ball into the back of the net. Tornadoes have secured 21 points and are in 16th position on the standings, though the Chanji Boys are above in 8th, on 27 points.

The first half of the season fixtures recorded 20 goals – 7 wins, with the only away glory coming from the defending champions Enyimba in Ibadan, and the other 3 clashes ended in draws.

Hope Ejairu

Hope Ejairu is a writer, sports analyst and journalist, with publications on print and digital media. He holds certifications in various media/journalism trainings, including AFP.

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