NPFL and the vanishing home supremacy

Edwin  - CEO April 4, 2024
Updated 2024/04/05 at 4:09 AM
7 Min Read
Image credit: NPFL
Image credit: NPFL

Consistent spell of results away from home bring back excitement to Nigeria’s professional football league



By Harry Iwuala


A section of followers of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) appear overly excited by the results of away teams and are given to adjudging the league to have improved when teams win on the road. On the other hand, they hit hard at organizers when all home teams win their games.


To some analysts, wins away from home indicate fair and firm officiating, which they conclude is a benchmark for a developed league. To these analysts, total home wins on a matchday suggest that Referees have been compromised or intimidated.


None of the above scenarios is perfect and absolute, as there are exceptions to all. Some have argued that the major reason for the league’s home and away routines is to enable all clubs to take advantage of their home ground. For this reason, primarily powerful squads grind out results no matter where they play.


In our unique environment, where several factors come into play, strong squads often struggle at away games after traveling long distances on bad roads that leave them knackered.


The human error factor on the part of Referees also contributes to the blips in expectations, even as it is not out of place to have manipulated officiating occasioned by home supporters’ shenanigans.


The stats since the resumption of the second stanza defies widespread projections of what usually obtains at this time of the season. Usually, the last lap of the season sees lots of desperate acts by teams to win by all means to either place in the continental ticket bracket or escape relegation.


The most astonishing result has been those of Bayelsa United, Niger Tornadoes, Akwa United and Doma United. So far, there have been 11 away wins from Matchday 20 to 28, with Heartland, Akwa United, Doma United, and Niger Tornadoes featuring in at least two defeats at home.


On the other hand, Akwa United and Niger Tornadoes have also popped up on two away wins, respectively, in the period under review. Plateau United, which recorded the biggest away win of 5-1 against Heartland on Matchday 22, would lose at home 1-2 to Akwa United on Matchday 27.


At the bottom of the log, Heartland has been the donor team of the season, both in terms of home defeats and goals conceded.


Another interesting perspective on the stats from Matchday 20-28 is the number of drawn games, which has reduced the home supremacy syndrome. There have been 20 drawn games in 82 fixtures covering Matchday 20-28. This means that home teams have not been able to win in 31 games in nine matchdays.


Chairman of the NPFL, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye, described the development as evidence that “the NPFL is increasingly evolving into a very competitive league and that the zero tolerance for intimidation of Match officials is yielding expected results.


Elegbeleye commended Referees for their courage in interpreting the book’s rules, remarking, “While we have called out those who performed below par, it is fair also to commend the rest who have been at their best.


“I am particularly proud of the officials who took charge of Heartland vs. Plateau United on Matchday 22 and those in charge of Bendel Insurance vs. Niger Tornadoes in Wednesday’s Matchday 28. They showed exceptional courage in the face of home supporters’ pressure”, declared the NPFL Chairman.


Bamidele Johnson, a follower of Shooting Stars for decades, expressed delight at the league’s competitive direction. Johnson, who played a significant role in organizing the hugely acclaimed Naija Super 8 tournament that drew a large crown in Lagos, went on to praise the NPFL players for defying vociferous home crowds to post good results.


“It is a remarkable feat to travel and win amidst a hostile home crowd, and I am delighted that the NPFL is now having a good share of such results,” Johnson told NPFL Media.


In a post on his Facebook page, Bimbo Adeola, a core Rangers International supporter, celebrated the Enugu side’s nine games unbeaten run, including five on the road. Rangers have won away at Doma United, Niger Tornadoes, and Heartland with two draws, one each at home and away.


In a display of rare confidence in the organization of the NPFL, Adeola, a Sports Journalist and Media Entrepreneur, wrote, “We are Rangers; we win everywhere we go.”


Away Wins & Draws in 2nd Round


Matchday 20

Heartland 1-1 Kano Pillars

Sunshine Stars 1-1 Kwara United

Abia Warriors 0-0 Remo Stars


Matchday 21

Doma United 0-1 Rangers

Kwara United 1-1 Katsina United

Bendel Insurance 0-0 Enyimba

Plateau United 0-0 3SC

Akwa United 0-1 Bayelsa United


Matchday 22

Heartland 1-5 Plateau United


Matchday 23

Heartland 1-1 Sunshine Stars

Niger Tornadoes 0-2 Rangers

Doma United 0-0 Sporting Lagos

Kano Pillars 0-1 Abia Warriors

Gombe United 1-1 3SC


Matchday 24

Katsina United 1-1 Heartland

Bayelsa United 0-1 Niger Tornadoes

Rivers United 1-1 Kano Pillars

Rangers 0-0 Kwara United

Abia Warriors 1-1 Lobi Stars


Matchday 25

Doma United 0-1 3SC

Kano Pillars 1-1 Rangers


Matchday 26

Abia Warriors 0-0 Sunshine Stars

Gombe United 1-1 Akwa United


Matchday 27

Lobi Stars 1-1 Bayelsa United

Plateau United 1-2 Akwa United

Heartland 1-2 Rangers

Doma United 1-1 Gombe United


Matchday 28

Bendel Insurance 1-3 Niger Tornadoes

Sporting Lagos 1-1 Lobi Stars

Akwa United 0-1 Doma United

Gombe United 0-0 Remo Stars


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