Enyimba, yesterday, drew 1-1 with Rivers United to win a record ninth Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL). Both teams, as well as Remo Stars, ended the competition on nine points, but Enyimba won the title courtesy of their superior goals difference. Remo Stars came second and got the chance to play in next season’s CAF Champions League, while third-placed Rivers United will play in the CAF Confederation Cup. Yesterday’s match, the last of the 2022/23 NPFL Championship Play-off at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos, had a lot riding on it for both teams. Earlier before the game, Remo Stars had defeated Bendel Insurance 1-0 to earn nine points in the competition and Enyimba needed at least a draw to win the crown as that would also put them on nine points. On the other hand, Rivers United faced a must win situation as a draw would have seen them losing the second spot to Remo Stars, while a win would crown them champions for the second successive season with 11 points. With the draw, Remo Stars with a superior goals difference overtook Rivers on the final league table. Rivers United started the game on the front foot, pinning Enyimba to their own half, but they could not get the opener they desired. Midway into the game, the tide gradually changed with Enyimba giving as much as they received from the defending champions. Rivers United’s task, however, became tougher in the 40th minute when Ekene Awaziem put them ahead off a goalmouth scramble. The Peoples Elephant held on to the lead for the rest of the first half. Rivers United upped the tempo in the second half and were promptly rewarded in the 48th minute when Captain Nyima Nwagua capitalised on poor defending to draw his side level. Thereafter, they went looking for the winner that would have given them the crown, but they met a brickwall in Enyimba’s defence. As champions, Enyimba got the N100 million prize money and a record extending ninth title. Earlier, Bendel Insurance, who ended the regular season unbeaten, left the competition in tears as they ended in fourth place and away from the continental ticket they desired. The Benin Arsenal needed to beat Remo Stars to earn a CAF Confederation Cup slot, but they were beaten 0-1 courtesy of a Qudus Akanni 57th minute strike. In the classification match that opened the day’s proceedings, Sunshine Stars defeated Lobi Stars 3-1 to finish as the fifth-best team.
June 22, 2023
June 22, 2023