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Heartland Set to Join Promoted Sporting FC; Pillars In Pole Position, But It's Anyone’s Game

July, 4 2023.

After observing Tuesday as official rest day, all eight teams in the NNL Promotional Play-offs will return to action on Wednesday for the conclusion of the mini-round robin phase of the season-ending tournament, otherwise called the Super 8.

Going into Wednesday's games, only one team, FC ONE Rocket of Abat has been completely ousted from the competition and only one of the four tickets to the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) has been taken by Sporting Lagos FC.

As a consequence, the organizers of the tournament approved the Austin Okocha Stadium in Ogwashiukwu as an additional ground to the Stephen Keshi Memorial Stadium, Asaba, with a view of having the decisive group games played simultaneously.

With one of the two promotion tickets on offer in the Southern group already taken, Heartland of Owerri with 4 points and Stommers SC of Abeokuta with 1 Point are left to battle for the remaining one ticket, in Asaba, starting from 3pm, while Sporting FC will be needing a draw versus FC ONE Rocket in the other 3pm kick-off at Ogwashiukwu, to seal top spot.

On the other hand, despite topping the Northern group with 6 points from two games played, Kano Pillars are not yet promoted. In fact, all four teams in this group are still in with varied chances of gaining promotion to the nation's top division, the NPFL.

Pillars aka Sai Masu-Gida needs just a point to seal their promotion back to the elite league, but they are up against their fierce North-West rivals, Katsina United at 1pm today in Asaba. On the other hand, Katsina United must win by at least a two-goal margin, to stand a chance of earning immediate promotion back to the NPFL.

While the potentially explosive Arewa derby will capture the attention of many, the other encounter in the Northern group slated for 1pm in Ogwashiukwu is quite tricky. Most pundits appear to have given it to EFCC FC of Abuja, who shocked Katsina United 2-1 on Monday.

But despite having lost their first and second games, DMD FC of Maiduguri incredibly has still got a mathematical chance of securing promotion, only if they can thrash EFCC FC by at least 4-0, while hoping that Kano Pillars will do them the favour of beating Katsina United.

Should the last permutation occur, Pillars with 9 points takes the first ticket and the remaining three sides will be tied on 3 points each and that gives DMD FC the opportunity of taking the second ticket on goals difference, reports.

Should Kano Pillars lose to the Chanji Boys by say 2 goals and should EFCC FC beat "weeping boys" of the group, DMD FC 2-0, the whole equation in that group will change.

As it stands, aside the quest for promotion, the front-runners in both conferences are also looking to win their respective groups, so as to qualify for the Championship final, slated for July 7th, at the Stephen Keshi Memorial Stadium, Asaba.

It is on this premise that the organizers of the NNL Super 8, have been commended for their late decision, to have the final group games played simultaneously, so as to preserve the sporting integrity of the second tier league, uphold fair play and ensure that only the best qualifies to play in the NPFL 2023/24 season.

The Fixtures

Katsina United vs Kano Pillars 1pm SKMS

DMD FC vs EFCC FC 1pm AOS Ogwashiukwu

Heartland vs Sporting Lagos FC 3pm SKMS Asaba

Stommers SC vs FC ONE Rocket 3pm AOS Ogwashiukwu

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