The Nigerian Professional Football League Set to Commence on December 1st 2018
The league management company have set December 1st as commencement date for the 2018/2019 NPFL season, and in their new format, will have 24 teams competing for league glory. Following the resolution met by the League Management Company and the Club Owners Association, due to the inability to conclude 2017/2018 season where Lobi Stars of Makurdi were crowned champions after 24 rounds of matches, the twenty clubs from the 2017/2018 season will now compete against four promoted teams from the Bet9ja Nigerian National League (NNL).
A lot of controversy still surrounds the rounding off of the national league season. Few reports suggest that there will be a Super 8 tournament in Asaba to decide the promoted teams and Yusuf AbdulAzeez, Gombe United left back, when contacted on the controversy said; “we don’t know, maybe it will be super 4 or super 8”. He also confirmed readiness by his team to secure qualification whatever format of qualification it will be. Gombe United will compete in a playoff against Real Stars of Kaduna, Kogi United, Kada City, Remo Stars, Insurance of Benin, Delta Force and Shooting Stars (3sc) from the 24th of November to earn a place in the NPFL 2018/2019 season.
Teams have bolstered their squad for the coming season with recruits in key areas. Abdul Maikaba moved from Akwa United to 2017 champions, Plateau United following the end of his contract with the promise keepers. He won the 2017 Football Federations Cup for the first time for Akwa Utd. Gabriel Wassa followed Coach Maikaba to Plateau United, as the Jos team also secured the services of former Bayelsa United winger, Bernard Ovoke from Rivers United.
Ngozi Elechi who guided Go Round FC of Omoku, Rivers state from the Nationwide League One to the National League and then to the NPFL, put pen to paper on a three year deal and now replaces Baba Ganaru who will team up with El Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri for the 2018/2019 season. Other transfers in the league saw 2016 Federations Cup Champion with FC lfeanyi Ubah, Rafael Everton take up the helms at Akwa United, 2017 League Bloggers Award winner for Goalkeeper of the Season, Surah Ayeleso move to Kano Pillars from Nasarawa United, and Champions Lobi Stars securing the signature of Nojeem Olukokun from Nasarawa United and Alimi Sikuru from Sunshine stars.
Meanwhile, the sixth edition of the GoldCup preseason tournament kicked off in Ado-Ekiti and Ondo state with 5 NPFL teams competing against other NNL and NLO teams to put their players in the right shape for the coming season. Kwara United, MFM FC, Lobi Stars, Sunshine Stars and Rivers United were some of the teams who played against Remo Stars, Phoenix Asc, Cynosure and FC Ebedei. Kano Pillars were defending champions following a 1-0 victory against Lobi Stars in the 2017 finals.