Enyimba of Aba yesterday maintained their reputation as Nigeria’s most successful club when they beat Akwa United 3-0 at the Agege Stadium, Lagos to win a record eighth Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) title.
The NPFL title got Enyimba a CAF Champions League ticket for next season. Kano Pillars, who defeated Lobi Stars 1-0 yesterday, will join them in the elite CAF competition.
The Peoples Elephant won four of their five matches in the NPFL Championship Play-Off with their 0-2 loss to Kano PiIlars the only dent in their campaign. Yesterday was a carnival of songs (provided by Enyimba’s unrelenting drummers), goals and good dribbles, which kept the fans yearning for more.
Akwa United came into the competition as one of the teams tipped for the title having won Group B of the abridged league without stress, but they found the going tough in Agege.
They started with a draw against Kano Pillars, a victory over FC IfeanyiUbah and another draw with Enugu Rangers before yesterday’s loss to Enyimba.
Enyimba’s two-goal hero in the game against FC IfeanyiUbah, Reuben Bala started the rout in the 43rd minute when he tapped in a Joseph Osadiaye cross from the left flank to end the first half 1-0.
In the second half, Stanley Dimgba made it two in the 60th minute when he nodded in a Stanley Okorom cross, while Abdulrahman Bashir rounded off the scores with a blinder that left Akwa United goalkeeper, Emmanuel Iwu groping in the air in the 89th minute. The win gave Enyimba an unassailable 12 points.
Kano Pillars came second with 11 points after an Ifeanyi Nweke 23rd minute penalty gave them victory over Lobi Stars in the last match of the day.
In the second game of the day, FC IfeanyiUbah scored their third goal of the competition, but they were not enough to hand them their first victory as Enugu Rangers defeated them 4-2.
Coach Uche Okagbue’s men lost their first four games against Lobi Stars, Kano Pillars, Akwa United and Enyimba but they came out in search of change in fortune against Rangers.
The whipping boys, however, could only flutter as Rangers, eyeing a continental ticket went all out for victory with their first goal coming in the seventh minute through Chiamaka Madu, who benefited from Michael Uchebo’s precise pass.
The Flying Antelopes got their second goal in the 42nd minute when Jimoh Gbadamosi deflected Chidera Ezeh’s volley into the net. With just five minutes into the second half, Christian Madu made it 3-0 for Rangers. But the Anambra Warriors did not stop fighting.
They got their first goal just after Rangers’ third through Chibuike Ezeh, who gave them the hope of an amazing comeback in the 55th minute with another goal. But that was all they could do as Skipper Godwin Aguda scored in the 64th minute to end the game 4-2 advantage the Flying Antelopes.
The win earned Rangers a CAF Confederation Cup ticket for next season, as they ended the competition on eight points.