Within a couple of hours from now, the opening match of the 2017/18 Nigeria Professional Football League will kick off at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina. Katsina United will host four time champions Kano Pillars by 4pm today to begin hostilities for the season.
While we are excited at the beginning of the new season, let us cast our minds back to the previous season.
It started on a sour note when FC IfeanyiUbah walked out of the opener in Kano against Kano Pillars. There were other cases of indiscipline and teams trying to break the game to disrepute within the season. There were cases of assault in Kano, Gombe, Katsina, Akure, Sagamu where players, officials, journalists and visiting teams were culprits. There were questionable officiating and numerous cases of unpaid wages and salaries. Will all of these change?
Will there be adequate security for the players, officials, journalists and fans during the games? Will there be abandoned matches? Will the LMC be firm enough to follow the rule by the letter? Will the referees be fair while performing their duties? Will the trophy presentation be about the players? If nothing will change, can we call this a new season? is it just a roll-over? While we believe that things will change for better, we must put heads together to make this season a new one indeed.
To the new season proper, it is difficult to predict who would emerge champion of the season. Current champions Plateau United will not win the title. Can they prove me wrong? Enyimba FC and Akwa United are best bets to secure the title but their continental engagement may distract them well enough. What of Kano Pillars? They have just the league and Federation Cup to worry about.
Heartland FC and Kwara Utd returned to the NPFL after sending a short time in the NNL. NNL Champions Go Round FC and Yobe Desert Stars will be making their debut in the NPFL this season. Will they survive? I would pick Yobe Desert Stars, Niger Tornadoes, Wikki Tourists and Katsina United to join the NNL next season.
I expect the season to be without troubles. Fingers crossed. Looking up to the LMC to be firm. Support a Nigerian club today.