June, 2 2023.
Amidst the assertion by the Chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye that the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) is punching below its weight, and its hefty potential of being the best top flight football league in Africa, we have decided to look into the stats that could potentially determine the outcome of the NPFL Play-offs in Lagos.
To start with, Bendel Insurance and Rivers United finished the abridged league, on 34 points each. Remo Stars had 33 points, Enyimba of Aba 32, Lobi Stars had 30 points, while Sunshine Stars with 27, had the least tally.
Nonetheless, Insurance finished the regular season unbeaten in 18 games, and are the only Super Six side, with a chance to win a domestic double, having reached the final of the 2023 Federation
Cup on Thursday.
The Benin Gunners won the league title in 1973 and 1979 and has the likes of Rivers United (reigning champions), 1999 champions, Lobi Stars; and record NPFL Champions, Enyimba of Aba (eight titles) to contend with.
The South West duo of Remo Stars of Ikenne and Sunshine Stars of Akure will be looking to win their first title.
Enyimba's title challenge is expected to be anchored on Chukwuemeka Obioma who leads the scorers chart with 13 goals; 5 goals clear of Imade Osarenkhoe (Insurance), and 7 better than the six hauled by Ishmael Sariki also of Insurance.
Nyima Nwagua with five goals is the leading striker for Rivers United, but the Pride of River will need the likes of Chidiebube Gideon (4) and Albert Korvah (3) to weigh in more goals if they are to successfully defend their first and only title, won last year.
Lobi Stars with Umar Abba (six goals) and Kumaga Suur (four goals) could be the dark horse of the Super Six, especially if their Starboy Joseph Atule is able to hit his best form.
The duo of Remo Stars and Sunshine Stars could all struggle a little bit with goals, as non of their frontmen has been able to score more than three times during the regular season.
Regrettably, the Super Six will miss the following prolific finishers whose teams failed to qualify for the Play-offs. They are Bayelsa United's Robert Mizo (9 goals); Cyril Olisemeh of Akwa United and Muda Usman of Doma United, who finished the regular league with six goals each.
Going by the assertion that "striker win you matches, but a solid defence wins you titles"; we maybe in for some surprises.
Remo Stars finished the regular season with the best record of clean sheets - nine (9); and were closely followed by Lobi Stars eight (8); and Bendel Insurance eight (8). Title holders, Rivers United had seven (7), same number as Enyimba; while Sunshine Stars brought up the rare again with six (6).
The die is cast, the outcome of the draw are being awaited eagerly. The venue is the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, in Onikan Lagos and all matches from June 3-1, 2023 will be broadcast live by cable satellite television giants, Supersport!