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5 Star Pillars Trounce Sunshine Stars In Kano; As Bayelsa Utd & Rangers Win On The Road

February, 25 2024.

Ibrahim Mustapha Yuga scored a brace, while veteran captain, Rabiu Ali got a goal and an assist at Kano Pillars ran riot in a comprehensive 5-1 trashing of Sunshine Stars of Akure, at their fortress, the Sani Abacha Stadium, in Kofarmata, in one of the six Day-21 fixtures of the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) season, decided on Sunday, at venues across the country.

It was the second time this season that Pillars, aka Sai-Masugida, who are tutored by one of the most experienced tacticians in the league, Abdul Maikaba, trounced a rival team in the NPFL this season; having in the first stanza spanked Gombe United 5-0 with their youngster Abdullahi Yusuf netting all of the goals, to ago grab the headlines.

Prior to kick-off of the second half of the encounter, outgoing Super Eagles captain, and Kano Pillars legend, Ahmed Musa was honored by the club which handed him a jersey on whose back the word "Legend" rather than his name, and his favourite No.7 were engraved at the back.

While the victory, and rush of goals saw Kano Pillars leapfrog Enyimba Int'l FC of Aba to 3rd place in the table, with a superior goal difference, as both sides are tied on 36 points; Kennedy Boboye who replaced Edith Agoye as Head Coach of the Akure Gunners, is still looking for his first win, having also drawn their last encounter 1-1 with Kwara United.

Resilient Lobi Stars of Makurdi are once again the clear leaders, at the summit of the table, thanks to Kumaga Suur, whose 68th minute goal ensured that hapless Heartland had their woes compounded with another defeat. One-nil it ended at the Lafia Township Stadium, in favour of Lobi Stars who soared to 39 points, 3 points clear of Remo Stars, whose Day-22 fixture against Rivers United in Ikenne-Remo, was put on paulse by the NPFL.

In Kaduna, Niger Tornadoes of Minna gave their fight against the drop a timely boost, when edging Abia Warriors of Umuahia 1-0, at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, thanks to a 76th minute clincher by Ikenna Offor; whilst 3SC of Ibadan earned a credible point, in their goalless draw, away to Plateau United in Jos.

Meanwhile, goals from Lukman Balogun (45+1 min) and Taiye Yusuf (74th min) have Gombe United a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sporting FC of Lagos, in the early afternoon kick-off, at the Pantami Stadium, in Gombe.

Elsewhere in Eket, Eyong Offem scored in the 77th minute, to hand a seemingly rejuvenated Bayelsa United, a rare away win, against Akwa United of Uyo; whose struggles seems to have gone from bad to worse, despite the sacking of Fatai Osho as their Head Coach, even before mid-season.

While the top-four sides; Lobi Stars (39), Remo Stars (36), Kano Pillars (36) and Enyimba (36), are separated by just three points; the battle for survival is also rife; with Heartland rooted to the bottom of the log on 18 points, Gombe United and Akwa United on 21 points apiece are 18th and 19th respectively, while Sunshine Stars occupies the last relegation spot, on 23 points.

Eyong Offem 77 minutes Goal, Bayelsa United 19th and 18th with 21 points; while Sunshine Stars with 23 points occupies the last relegation spot 17th.

Three other fixtures were decided on Saturday, and Collins Ugwueze was the unlikely hero, as Rangers Int'l FC of Enugu inflicted a rare home defeat on Doma United FC of Gombe, in the early kick-off, as the Flying Antelopes pocketed their first win on the road this season, and temporarily got catapulted to 4th on the NPFL log, with 34 points.

The defeat, was also the first for Doma United, at the Pantami Stadium, this season, an in fact since their promotion to the elitist division, at the end of the 2021/22 Nigeria National League (NNL) season.

In Ilorin, Katsina United extended their brilliant run under Coach Abubakar Bala, by holding Kwara United to a fiercely fought 1-all draw, at the Kwara Sports Complex. Adesina Gata scored just before the break, to give Coach Kabiru Dogo tutored side the lead, and the home team had victory and three points in their sights, when the visitors were reduced to ten men in the 80th minute, when Sunday Akinmoladun bagged a straight red card.

But an own goal, by Adewale Adeyinka, four minutes from normal time, gifted the Changi Boys a deserved equalizer; as they ended the game with nine men, after Emmanuel Okoko was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Meanwhile, what was an easy pick, as the star match of the day, ended in a goalless draw, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, in Benin; where Bendel Insurance hosted Enyimba of Aba. The match which pitted the reigning NPFL Champions Enyimba, against the Federation Cup holders Insurance; and could have as well have pass for the Nigeria Super Cup; saw the Benin Arsenal throw everything into the game, but they lacked the killer punch, and the Aba People's Elephant, survived.

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