2016/2017 League heading for photo-finish affair

By Victor Enyinnaya on September 15, 2016

Views: 1,128

If you are a keen watcher of this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), you will agree that the summit has lived up to its billing of excitement, grills and frills. It is the needed ingredients football pundits all over the globe look out for because it is a strong platform that measures the level of leagues.

We have been witnessing the increased quality displays by teams, week in, week out which no doubt has brought out the thickness of the domestic league.

Fans go to the stadium to watch their idols score goals whether they are text book or fluke, the cheers that greet each goal remains awesome and such scene is the copious line that made it the most beautiful, most sort after and populous sport among the rest.

While the League Management Company (LMC) is hell bent on fine tuning to bring it up to the best standard, some clubs have tried to go short cut, however, the outcry of objective close watchers have kept the Shehu Dikko led committee on their toes. The rub my back, I rub yours syndrome which almost became the hallmark of our league has given way for near equity within the system.

From the look of things, the league is heading for a photo finish affair. To that effect, the log has witnessed several summersaults and of truth is, teams that are eyeing the top crown are championship stuffs.

As at the time of writing this, Rivers United displaced Rangers International who lost against arch rivals, Shooting Stars of Ibadan, while the Governor Wike boys overcame struggling Warri Wolves to temporary hold forth.

The competition has also seen pretenders to the top shot once upon a time. To further buttress the keenness of the NPFL Champ this season. Teams like MFM, Wikki, among others sat on top of the summit during the early stages.

At the moment, men have finally been separated from the boys, also the table has been divided into three, title chasers, middle class and relegation threatened teams. Of note is that there is hot competition in the three zones the league classified itself today. Those for the crown are not relenting so also the regelation fighters notably MFM, Heartland, Warri Wolves and Ikorodu.

From the fixtures, as the league continues its home ward mission favours Rangers International to pick the ultimate prize after 32 years of laurel drought. However, the Governor Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi boys must be more vigilant to avoid traps their closest rivals would set in order to provoke them during matches. Already the team has lost its two key players to red card offences. It is not good for them. Both the coach Imama and players must device smooth ways so as to coast home to victory. It must start with the game against Sunshine of Akure on Saturday. That game is a must win if the fans must start preparing to roll out their drums for celebration at the end of the season. There must not be room for laxity or distraction. Rangers’ technical crew and players must not give any space for match officials to capitalise on for any mischief. The trade is fully on and the Coal City idols must know the intrigues and brace up decisively. The best for Rivers United will be second spot if it does not go into deep snoring that would give room for the ambitious FC Ifeanyi Uba to overtake it. This is the trickiest period in the league; any distraction can cost any team its perceived position because overtaking is allowed.

Wikki Tourist that held unto their ambition to lift the diadem for the first time has sadly lost it within a twinkle of an eye. What hit them still remains unknown to its teeming fans who were already preparing to roll out the drums.

The greatest shame of the season is Heartland of Owerri of all teams. It is gradually bidding goodbye to the elite cadre of the league. Since 1976 when it was Spartans FC of Owerri, it has never gone down. Its story remains pathetic and could safely be likened to a fairy tale told by an idiot. It is one of the ‘benefits’ of electing Rochas Okorocha to the Government House, Owerri.

It is no longer in doubt the photo finish affair posture of the league this season. This is injury time where so many short cuts are employed by teams and their managements.

The onions therefore are on the broad shoulders of the leadership of the LMC to device tighter measures that would effectively checkmate the referees. The call for referees with high level of integrity to officiate the remaining games in this crucial time becomes more imperative.

LMC must not close its eyes to this and leave this moral burden to the Referees’ Committee. They cannot be trusted, that should not be interpreted to mean that anyone is referring to them as corrupt. As the quest to pick the coveted top nod is much sort after, so also, the battle to survive the dreaded red line-relegation. Eyes must be widely open to avert this. We are aware of all the dirty attributes that associate with injury time. Teams and their managements’ tricks, crowd disturbances and so forth are there for LMC to jealously guard against so as to get full thumbs up when the curtain for the season is finally drawn.

Source Daily Sports

Posted September 15, 2016

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