September, 30 2023.
The thrills, ecstasy and frills of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) makes a return this weekend, after a four month break, with the reintroduction of match-day assessors, to be assigned to the designated venues, by the NPFL.
The eagerly awaited season whose kick-off was twice postponed, is also to witness captivating innovations like the live streaming of matches, with single Artificial Intelligence (AI) cameras to be mounted in each of the designated venues.
The live streaming as provided by UK-based Propel Sports Limited, is to be powered by telecommunication giant, MTN through an App to millions of NPFL fans in Nigeria and the diaspora.
However, only eight Day-1 fixtures of the 2023/24 season are on the the card, with an early kick-off pitting Katsina United against Kwara United of Ilorin, today (Saturday), starting from 3:30pm.
Later this afternoon, (Saturday), Abia Warriors of Umuahia will host Niger Tornadoes of Minna; whilst Sunshine Stars and returning Kano Pillars are to lock horns in Akure.
In Other fixtures, Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu will hope to put the unimpressive run of pre-season results, behind when he begins his reign as Technical Adviser of Rangers International of Enugu against Doma United of Gombe, who are into their second season in the top division. That encounter holds at the Awka City Stadium.
Meanwhile, Bayelsa United and Akwa United will slug it out in a potentially explosive South-South derby to be played in Yenagoa; while promoted Heartland FC of Owerri are to host Lobi Stars of Makurdi, at the Dan Anyiam Stadium.
Tomorrow, will see Shooting Stars Sports Club playing host to Plateau United of Jos, at the Adamasingba Stadium Ibadan; in a match that will see two of the most experienced football coaches in the land, Gbenga Ogunbote and Abdul Maikaba go against each other on the very first match week.
Elsewhere, new boys Sporting Lagos FC will make their top flight bow against Gombe United, on Monday.
Two games; Bendel Insurance versus Enyimba of Aba, and Rivers United versus Remo Stars of Ikenne have been postponed indefinitely by the League Body, as both Insurance and Rivers United are on continental assignments.
Meanwhile, the management of the NPFL has confirmed that Match-day secret assessment of Referees is expected to make a return in all the scheduled fixtures across the country.
The Chief Operating Officer of the NPFL Davidson Owumi, made the confirmation, while announcing the return of the scheme, which he said is part of measures geared towards improving officiating.
Secret Assessors are representatives of the league sent undercover for an adequate check on the performance of match Officials.
Owumi said the league’s Secret Assessors are however to play the dual role of providing useful intelligence on the conduct of Match Officials on the pitch as well as monitoring the intimidation of Match Officials at any time in the course of their duty.
Owumi also warned that the NPFL will come down hard on Clubs that breach the safety of Match Officials in line with extant rules of the League; www.ckdmedia.ng reports.