There are weekends and there is a weekend. After 96 days of break, the 2015/16 Nigeria Professional Football League kicked off on Saturday in Jos, before excitement went over the top yesterday in 9 other centers.
It was a drab affair at the Emirates when Hull visited Arsenal in the FA Cup, but the atmosphere was different about same time in the Rwang Pam Stadium where two newly promoted sides kicked off the season. Plateau United defeated Niger Tornadoes 2-1. They had missed the NPFL for about 5 years.
I was at the Oldest stadium in Nigeria – Onikan – as football returned to Lagos after over decade. The traditional Lagos team are defunct but Ikorodu United and MFM FC got promoted this season. The atmosphere at Onikan was electric, despite not being filled to capacity. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Abia Warriors holding on to the valuable 1 point. CHAN 2016 hero, Chisom Chikatara, was surprisingly in Abia Warriors line-up but he couldn’t affirm his presence.
The Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano was the place to be – lovely pitch, packed stadium and 3 late goals. It was a replica of Arsenal 2-1 Leicester City as Kano Pillars came from behind to defeat Rangers. Prince Aggrey took on the Welbeck role. A debut goal for the former Sunshine Stars forward. Other results included a debut NPFL win for the other Lagos side – MFM FC, a first win for Dolphins (now Rivers United) over champions Enyimba in 10 league games.
Full Matchday 1 Results of the 2016 NPFL
- Plateau United 2-1 Niger Tornadoes
- Giwa FC 0-1 FC Ifeanyiubah
- Nasarawa United 1-2 MFM FC
- Rivers United 1-0 Enyimba
- Shooting Stars 0-1 Lobi Stars
- Sunshine Stars 1-1 Akwa United
- Ikorodu United 1-1 Abia Warriors
- El-Kanemi 0-1 Wikki Tourists
- Heartland 0-0 Warri Wolves
- Kano Pillars 2-1 Rangers
The Emirates FA Cup was on over the weekend in England. Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses were on target for Westham while Alex Iwobi was voted Man of the Match in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw to Hull City. The Gunners will need to make do with another fixture to their already tight calendar. I expected Arsenal to gun down the Tigers but it was not to be.
On Tuesday, The Champions League returns to the Emirates. Will Arsenal grab a victory over Barcelona? Will Arsenal be torn apart by the rampaging trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar? I believe Arsenal will put up a good fight. But the fans need more than a fight. Victory is needed.
See you at the Emirates on Tuesday.