Enyimba of Aba climbed to the top of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) ladder for the first time yesterday following their 3-1 defeat of FC IfeanyiUbah in their fourth game of the six-team competition.
On a night the first two games between Lobi Stars and Akwa United and Enugu Rangers against Kano Pillars ended in draws, Enyimba were left to beat the whipping boys of the competition, FC IfeanyiUbah to take the leadership position in the league. This they did with two first half goals by Bala Reuben and a second half strike by Abdulrahman Bashir. James Promise’s 31st minute strike was only consolatory for FC IfeanyiUbah.
Enyimba now have nine points from four matches, while second placed Kano Pillars are on eight points from the same number of games. This means the championship will be decided on the last day when Enyimba will face Akwa United, while Kano Pillars will meet Lobi Stars.
The first match of the day between Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers ended in a 1-1 draw, which means Pillars can still win the championship if they beat Lobi Stars in the last game, while Enyimba draw or lose to Akwa United.
Akwa United also have a chance of winning the championship if they beat Enyimba and Kano Pillars lost to Lobi Stars.
Veteran midfielder, Rabiu Ali gave Pillars the lead two minutes before the hour mark through a beautiful free-kick from the edge of the box.
Rangers were reduced to 10-men 17 minutes from time when Tope Olusesi was sent off for a foul on Nyima Nwagua. But the Flying Antelopes rallied to get the equaliser through a dying minute penalty awarded to them when Ifeanyi Egwin was upended inside the box by Adeshola David.
Godwin Aguda scored from the spot for his second goal of the play-offs.
There were, however, ugly scenes at the end of regulation time with Kano Pillars fans invading the pitch with sticks, stones and other objects.
In the other game of the day, Lobi Stars saw their title ambition die when they could not manage to beat Akwa United. The game ended goalless.
What it means is that Akwa United, who have not lost any game in the series are on six points, and can still win the championship with a victory over Enyimba and Kano Pillars’ loss to Lobi Stars.
As the teams stand, Enyimba and Kano Pillars need a draw in their last games to qualify for the CAF Champions League, while either Akwa United or Rangers will finish third and pick the Confederation Cup ticket depending on the outcomes of their respective last games. Rangers will face bottom team, FC IfeanyiUbah in the last game.