Eight games were played on Sunday, 21st January during the matchday three of the Nigerian topflight league with the other two scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
Meanwhile, only 14 goals were scored as three home and away wins with two draws were recorded during the breath-taking moments across different match venues.
Six goals in Jos
The new Jos Stadium witnessed a total of six goals from four teams during a double game event on Sunday. The two matches however, produced three goals each to become the most scored games of the weekend.
While the earlier played game between Nasarawa and Akwa United produced a total of three goals in favour of the away side, Plateau United and Enyimba ended in a slim 2-1 win for the peace Boys.
James Ajako’s first half strike and a second half brace from Ndifreke Effiong, who became the highest goalscorer of the weekend sealed the Promise Keepers’ first win of the season.
It was their first three-goal away win since 2016 after a 3-1 win over El Kanemi in a rescheduled matchday three encounter.
The away victory over the yo-yo Solid Miners was a big moment for them as it marked their first win of the season and a clean sheet after four meetings against Nasarawa United as stated by Opta Nigeria.
It was also Coach Ayodeji Ayeni’s first away win in 11 road games since he joined the Uyo-based side from Sunshine Stars last season.
According to Opta Nigeria, the 3-0 defeat was Nasarawa United’s third biggest home defeat in the NPFL.
But while it was as if the 2pm fixture would be the only talking point in Jos, Plateau United and Enyimba gave football fans what to talk about till the end of the evening.
Finidi George, who won his first game of the season in Jos against Nasarawa United was condemned to a last minute magical strike from substitute, Kazeem Ogunleye to salvage an away point for the Peoples Elephants. The visitors goalkeeper, Leke Ojo became the second player to be red carded after Sunday Anthony in matchday one during Rivers United against Lobi Stars.
It was Finidi’s second away defeat to Ilechukwu who defeated the ex-international last season by a lone goal from Mohammed Zulkifilu.
Enyimba scored first from Chibuike Nwaiwu’s header in the 25th minute which was the 50th goal of the 2023 NPFL season as stated by Engineer Kowope on Twitter.
But the Fidelis Ilechukwu-led boys who did comebacks in their last home game against Shooting Stars restored parity from defender, Ifeanyi Onyebuchi’s header to Mustapha Ibrahim’s assist in the 36th minute.
However, the game saw pivot players of the both sides substituted as a result of injuries before Kazeem Ogunleye gave Fidelis Ilechukwu his first win of the season.
Bendel Insurance mean business
Just as Babajide Guerrero said during the Plateau United vs Enyimba game, that every point matters in the abridged league, some teams are gathering in their barns while some are floundering, giving away vital points both home and away.
Having suffered a setback during their 2019 campaign in the topflight league, the Monday Odigie-led Bendel Insurance have proved to critics they are in the league to stay with their lone goal away win over Kwara United. It was the Benin Arsenal’s third consecutive win in the league.
However, the Harmony boys would have themselves to blame after they were stunned by Imade Osarenkhoe’s 25th minute strike which happened to be his third goal of the season in three appearances.
Meanwhile, Kwara United are yet to score a goal this season in their last three games at the Lekan Salami Stadium.
Abdul Makaiba finding “solace”
Enugu Rangers, who were one of the brighter sides last season are yet to gather momentum in the 2023 league season. They have lost their first two games and the recent one played against Olumide Agoye’s Sunshine Stars ended in a sour state for the Flying Antelope having been forced to a 1-1 draw by the Owenna Whales.
Meanwhile, it was payback time for the Owenna Whales who Abdul Makaiba and his boys picked a point last season at the Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu Ode.
Rangers scored their first goal of the season from Imo Ikemodinachi’s own goal in the 14th minute before Ibrahim Yusuff salvaged the lead in the 36th minute.
The Antelopes would have hoped for a first season win having awarded a 87th minute penalty only for goalkeeper Mustapha Lawal to dash the hope parrying Christopher Nnaji’s spotkick to a corner.
Top three and bottom two
With the abridged league being divided into two forms, it means there are six possible contenders for the super six challenge and bottom two who may be axed for relegation.
Bendel Insurance, who recorded another away win, currently leads in Group A with nine points ahead of Remo Stars who have a Southwestern derby to cater for on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Akwa United who recorded its first win of the season are currently in the third position with four points.
The duo of Kwara United and Nasarawa United are in the ninth and 10th position respectively. While Kwara United has two points, the Solid Miners who suffered a heavy defeat in Jos are yet to record a point so far this season.
In Group B, Abia Warriors who suffered their first defeat of the season to third placed Lobi Stars still maintains the first position with six points while Niger Tornadoes who are in the second position with the same points still has an outstanding fixture with defending Champions Rivers United on Tuesday.
However, Enugu Rangers who were held by Sunshine Stars are above yo-yo Kabiru Dogo’s Wikki Tourists who are yet to pick a point in their last three games.
Some clubs would want to correct their wrongs in the next matchday while some would seek to continue in the new form they have found.
Kwara United will be leaving Ibadan to visit Enyimba in Aba; both teams faced defeats during matchday three.
Bendel Insurance scintillating performances would be tested by Remo Stars at Benin while Akwa United, who had just got back their form, will face a resilient Plateau United in Uyo.
With 124.6km that amounted to two hours and 49 minutes, Rivers United will travel down to Uyo for a South-southerrn derby against Dakkada Fc.
Another derby in the North between Bauchi-based Wikki Tourists and newcomers, Doma United.
Discussion about this post