June, 13 2023.
..As Rivers Utd Drop to Conf. Cup...
The Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Championship Play-offs, ended in the most pulsating manner on Sunday, with Enyimba of Aba reclaiming the NPFL title, which they last won on in 2019.
Having seen Remo Stars of Ikenne edge Bendel Insurance 1-0 (thanks to Qudus Akanni's solitary strike in the 36th minute); to take their points tally to 9, thereby guaranteeing themselves of finishing second, irrespective of the outcome of the 7pm kick-off; Enyimba knew that their work has been clearly defined.
With a +4 goals difference, to win the title, Enyimba needed to avoid defeat, against the defending champions, Rivers United, who will recline to third position on inferior goals difference of +2.
Otherwise, the Pride of Rivers will have to beat Enyimba by any margin to retain their title, for the second season, in a row.
Nonetheless, the Aba People's Elephant, took the lead through Ekene Awazie in the 39th minute, only for the reigning champions to equalize through their captain, Nyima Nwagua, three minutes after the break.
No further goals were scored, as Enyimba packed their midfield for the reminder of the second half. One-all it ended, Finidi George won his first trophy as a Coach in the NPFL, and Enyimba made it a record extending ninth Nigerian title.
Lifting the redesigned NPFL trophy, which attracted one hundred million Naira, in prize money; also guaranteed Enyimba the first ticket to represent Nigeria, in next season's CAF Champions League.
Remo Stars who also finished on 9 points, but with a lesser goals difference of +3 takes the second ticket to the Champions League, an upgrade from finishing 3rd last season, and playing in CAF's second tier elite clubs completion.
Rivers United also with 9 points, but an inferior goals difference of +2 finished in third spot, and will have to play in the Confederation Cup, next season as Nigeria's second entrant, www.ckdmedia.ng reports.
The nation's first entrant in this competition, will come from the National Federation Cup, where Bendel Insurance and Enugu Rangers will on June 21, 2023 contest the final in Asaba, Delta State.
Earlier, Sunshine Stars thrashed hapless Lobi Stars in what many thought was a dead rubber.
However, winning the match took the points tally of the Akure Gunners to 5; meaning they finished 4th, one spot above Insurance who drew their first three games, lost their last two, to finish their Super Six campaign with 3 points.
Lobi Stars trailed all of the other teams, by finishing 6th, with two points, and just one goal scored in the entire play-offs, which began on June 3rd and ended on Sunday, June 11th, 2023.