June, 8 2023.
...As Remo, Sunshine and Lobi Stars Seek First 3 Points...
The 2pm encounter between Rivers United and Bendel Insurance is arguably the stand-out fixture of Day-5, the penultimate day of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) championship play-offs, which ends in Lagos on Sunday.
Both sides topped their respective groups of the regular season, with identical 34 points; but it is the reigning NPFL Champions that have had a better showing at the Super Six, with a win and two draws from their first three games.
As the only unbeaten side in the regular season, a lot is expected from Bendel Insurance, but the Benin Arsenal have stuttered to three draws in a row at the play-offs, to extend their winless run to six matches.
The fact that they are still unbeaten, gives them a fighting chance against the Pride of Rivers who are neck-to-neck with Enyimba at the top of the log, with 5 points, each.
The second match of Day 4 between Lobi Stars and Remo Stars, kicks-off at 4.30pm, and it affords either side the opportunity to stake a claim, for the third continental ticket, with a victory of any margin.
Lobi Stars with just 2 points, have underperformed so far, and have yet to score at the tournament, although they have conceded just twice, far less than Remo Stars who have let in 5 goals, while scoring five times, and garnered 3 points.
The evening kick-off pits another stuttering side, Sunshine Stars of Akure (2 points), who are in a must win duel with table toppers, Enyimba of Aba, whose goal is to return to the CAF Champions League, a competition they won back-to-back in 2003 and 2004.
The People's Elephant have not been convincing at the season ending tournament, with their solitary win coming from lowly Lobi Stars; but their top striker, Chukwuemeka Obioma has been in fine form scoring twice, to take his season's tally to 15, and has virtually pocketed the Golden Boot award, www.ckdmedia.ng reports.
With injuries taking its toll on all six teams, one can conviniently postulate that the sides with better squad depth, players with character and winning mentality, and coaches who can turn adversity to prosperity, will get the job done on Day 5 (Friday).