June, 8 2023.
There is no doubt that the three draws, in as many games, decided on match-day 3 of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) championship play-offs, best projects the aim of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), to ensure that at the end of the season, the best teams in the land, wins the title and tickets to represent the country on the continent, next season.
Thr closely fought, tense, pulsating and nail-biting games, two ending low scoring draws, and the third goalless; aptly captions the intensity with which all nine games so played in Lagos, have been contested. These justifies the appellation of the tournament, "Super Six".
Remarkably, all nine games, with near perfect officiating by hitherto maligned Nigerian Referees, well branded arena, excellent playing pitch, smooth and flawless organisation; were all transmitted to the entire Africa and world at large, by Super Sports, on DStv and GOTV.
But as the teams observe the third rest day on Thursday, preparatory to the run-in, let's look at some vital stats that could eventually define the fortunes of all six participating teams.
The end of Day-3 games, implies that 60% of the play-offs is done and dusted; surprisingly only two wins have been recorded, while the other deven fixtures ended in pulsating draws.
Reigning champions, Rivers United defeated Sunshine Stars 1-0 on Day 1, while eight-time champions Enyimba edged Lobi Stars 1-0 on Day 2.
With the victories, the People's Elephant and Pride of Rivers, top the log on 5 points, each and are looking good for both the title, and continental tickets, considering the depth of talents in their respective squads.
Having drawn all their three matches in Lagos so far, Remo Stars and Insurance of Benin, now have their work cut out, if they are to play in the CAF Champions League, next season. They have to win their last two matches; but intriguingly the two draw specialists, will have to face each other, on Day 5.
Like, the duo of Insurance and Remo Stars, it may be foolhardy to completely write off the chances of Lobi Stars and Sunshine Stars, at the Super Six, ckdmedia.ng reports.
After three games, Lobi are still looking for their first goal, and that surely is of a big concern to Coach Mohammed Baba Ganaru, whose men will need to score, being that goals win matches.
The story is slightly the same with the Akure Gunners, except that they have scored twice, in the tournament. Expecting both Sunshine Stars and Lobi Stars will need to win the remainder of their two games, sounds like a tall order, but in football nothing is impossible, so let's say they have to do the improbable, and hope that other results go their way for either of them to stand a chance of finishing 3rd.
So far, no Red Card has been shown at the play-offs. It's a testimony to the players being technically discipline, at least before the cameras; but after three games, we have seen a spate of injuries, with all the teams affected.
It's therefore no rocket science to predict that the sides with squad depth, players with character and winning mentality, and more importantly Coaches that can turn adversity to prosperity, shall on Sunday (June 11, 2023), be the ones celebrating.