NPFL Matchday 23: What happened

Edwin  - CEO March 6, 2024
Updated 2024/03/06 at 6:26 PM
8 Min Read
Lobi Stars Image credit: NPFL
Lobi Stars Image credit: NPFL

Fantastic talking points and surprises add glamor to a week of football



The last matchday in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) threw up fantastic talking points and even recorded surprises among the fixtures. We look back at the major highlights of Matchday 23, George Akpayen reports for NPFL.



Matchweek 23 ran for four consecutive days and allowed us to see different leaders at the top of the NPFL standings. On Saturday, one of the sides aiming for the title this season, Remo Stars, edged past Bayelsa United 1-0 through Adams Olamilekan’s goal and displaced Enyimba. The following Sunday, three clubs took turns occupying the summit before Lobi Stars finally claimed it until Matchday 24. First, Rangers went top after racing into an early two-goal lead at Niger Tornadoes through Chidiebere Nwobodo and Godwin Obaje. At the same time, Lobi Stars and Plateau United struggled to breach the defenses of Katsina United and Bendel Insurance.


Within the space of 15 minutes, Plateau United scored two second-half goals through Alex Enejo and Barnabas Daniel against Bendel Insurance to go top. However, Lobi, who needed any kind of win, got into the groove in the final 20 minutes. John Victor and Alao Danbani scored a goal each to ensure they defeated Katsina United and claimed the top spot for keep until the next matchday.


NPFL 2023/2024 Current Standing


Obi has been in charge of 16 NPFL matches at Heartland and is yet to guide the club to win. His record currently stands at nine draws and seven defeats. However, the three wins they have on the board were achieved during the brief spell of Kennedy Boboye, who won against Bendel Insurance (1-0), Akwa United (1-0), and Remo Stars (3-1) before he was told to leave by the Imo State government. Since the start of this year, Heartland has yet to win a game, including in their last NPFL fixture against Sunshine Stars, a team now managed by Boboye. Obi’s men played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday with Sunshine Stars at the Awka Stadium, leaving them at the bottom of the standings and six points off safety. Obi is nevertheless still in charge as Heartland’s head coach.



It was another outing for Doma United without a win on Monday at their Pantami Stadium home ground, where they played a goalless draw with Sporting Lagos. Indeed, times have changed for the Savannah Tigers, who have now gone six straight matches without a win (D2 L4), and that poor run of results has seen them slip down to ninth position on the standings. In the early moment of the campaign, Doma United hovered between first and fourth places and even put together a nine-game undefeated run between November 5 and December 9, 2023 (W6 D3). Akinade Onigbinde and his men somehow have been brought down to Earth at the moment.



Suleiman Sani is nimble-footed and brought that to bear in Akwa United’s 3-1 defeat of champions Enyimba in Monday’s game. Sani, who joined from Wikki Tourists, appears to have sparked life into Akwa United’s survival race since joining the club in the mid-season transfer window. He has made four appearances in the NPFL for the Promise Keepers and has scored three goals, including two in their 3-1 win over champions Enyimba.



Sani’s super form has also happened at the right time for Akwa United, who made a return to their home ground, Godswill Akpabio Stadium, otherwise known as the Nest of Champions in Uyo, after spending 127 days at the Eket Stadium, which is around 54 kilometers to Uyo. Akwa United struggled for form at the Eket Stadium in their ten matches (W5 D5 L1), including a 0-1 loss to Bayelsa United, which sparked the call for the Promise Keepers to return to the Nest of Champions. Their first match on return ended with a 3-1 win over title-holders Enyimba on Monday – throwing up the theory that the Promise Keepers were homesick.



For the first time in their NPFL history, Abia Warriors somehow ground out a big win at Kano Pillars. No one saw this coming, as the odds before kickoff favored Kano Pillars, who had sewn up six straight wins at home before the meeting. All of Abia Warriors’ previous eight visits have ended in defeats with a massive aggregate scoreline of 18-2. Daniel Ijeh’s late goal secured the Warriors their first league win at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano and their first league double over the former champions.


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