Sharks FC of Port Harcourt emerged the dark horse of Globacom Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) week 17 matches after securing its second win of the campaign away at Ilorin. Christian Pyagbara’s first half strike handed the Blue Angels a rare victory against Kwara United to move off bottom of the league table to 18th spot with 15 points.
Sunshine Stars of Akure, however, continued its dominance of the league with a 2-0 victory over Bayelsa United at the Akure Stadium. Goals in each half from Kingsley Eduwo (60 seconds) and Tunde Adeniji (69th minute) handed the Akure Arsenals the maximum points that took its tally to 33 points from 17 matches and a top spot on the league table.
Wikki Tourists displaced Enyimba on the second spot courtesy of a hard-fought 2-1 win over El-Kanemi Warriors in Bauchi, leaving it with 32 points. Two goals from Mubarak Umar and Chukwudi Samuel either side of the half set the Tourists on the quest for a comfortable home victory until Sunday Adetunji struck in the 84th minute to trigger off a nervy final minutes at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi. However, Enyimba’s nine matches unbeaten run came to end on Sunday following a 1-2 loss to Warri Wolves at the Warri City Stadium. Gbolahan Salami’s 43rd minute opener was cancelled by Christian Obiozor just after the restart, giving the six times champions hope of taking away at least a point from the tie. However, the hope for a major upset vanished soon when Abu Azeez fired the host into the lead and the winner in the 65th minute. The loss ensured the people’s Elephant drops to the third position on the league table.
League champions, Kano Pillars suffered yet another defeat with a 0-1 defeat to Akwa United at the Nest of Champions to drop two places (from 7th to 9th spot on the log). Ukeme Davies’ 18th minute goal was all that the Uyo based club needed to hand the Pillars a.k.a “Sai Masu Gida” another away defeat, increasing pressure on coach Okey Emordi.
Heartland FC climbed up to fourth on the standings following a 3-1 win over Dolphins in Nnewi on 29 points. Collins Nwaneri put the home side in front after just four minutes following a shocking piece of goalkeeping by the Dolphins’ goalkeeper, Godwin Anyalogu.
The visiting Port Harcourt club, however, fought back into the game with a 53rd minute equalizer through Godbless Asamoah. However, late goals from Bright Ejike and Emeka Ogbugh (78th and 90+2 minutes respectively) ensured the Naze Millionaires secured the maximum points and further compounded Dolphins’ relegation woes.
Shooting Stars recorded the highest goal margin of the weekend with a convincing 3-0 win over Giwa FC in Ibadan. A brace by Ajani Ibrahim and Najeem Olukokun’s solitary strike ensured the Gbenga Ogunbote-led team continues its impressive run and further drive Giwa FC down the league table to fifth position while the Oluyole Warriors moved to the 11th position.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah picked a priceless away point with a 1-1 draw against Nasarawa United in Lafia. Esosa Igbinoba fired the home side into the lead in the 12th minute before Bright Onyedikachi drew level to guarantee his side a share of the spoils which ensured both teams dropped one places to 6 and 12 positions respectively.
Abia Warriors ran out 3-1 winners against FC. Taraba at the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba to move up to 7th on the log. Two goals from Ndifreke Effiong and Valentine Nwabili’s strike gave the Umuahia based club the unassailable lead with Ibrahim Sanusi grabbing a consolation goal for FC Taraba.
Enugu Rangers’ impressive form under youthful coach, Imama Amapakabo continued with a 3-1 victory against Lobi Stars at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu. Goals from Matthew Etim and Godwin Aguda plus Shehu Nasiru’s own goal handed the Flying Antelopes maximum points, albeit, Obioma Arinze’s consolation goal for Lobi. The victory moves the Enugu based club up to eighth on the log with 26 points from 17 matches.
The Globacom NPFL round of 17 matches witnessed 26 goals, eight home wins, one away win and a draw.
NPFL WEEK 17 Results
Kwara United 0-1 Sharks FC
Sunshine Stars 2-0 Bayelsa United
Warri Wolves 2-1 Enyimba
Wikki Tourists 2-1 El-Kanemi Warriors
Heartland 2-1 Dolphins
Shooting Stars 3-0 Giwa FC
Enugu Rangers 3-1 Lobi Stars
Abia Warriors 3-1 FC Taraba
Nasarawa United 1-1 FC IfeanyiUbah
Akwa United 1-0 Kano Pillars.
By Olisemeka Obeche