Hurray!!! Competitive club football is back again. Liverpool’s Champions League victory over Spurs ended Europe’s 2018/19 season and the Reds kicked off the new season in The Premier League with a 4-1 victory over newly promoted Norwich City at Anfield.
Liverpool’s last two competitive matches were separated by various international tournaments, pre-season tournaments etc. The FIFA Women’s World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, Copa America, Gold Cup and many more happened on the international stage. While these competitions kept us glued to the national teams, the yearn for club football could not be silenced.
Arsenal’s season starts on Sunday with a visit to Newcastle. It will be there first competitive game since losing the Europa League final to Chelsea. They have made some exciting signings this summer and looks like they are gearing up to win at least a trophy this season.
In Nigeria, Enyimba won the NPFL Championship playoff while Kano Pillars put aside the disappointment of finishing second in the playoff to secure the 2019 AITEO Cup in Nigeria. Kano Pillars’ penalty shout victory over Niger Tornadoes marked the end of Nigeria’s abridged 2018/19 season and the Kano based side will kick start their season with a continental date against Ghana’s Asante Kotoko in the Preliminary Round of the CAF Champions League.
Enyimba are in Ouagadougou to face Rahimo FC in the Champions League while Niger Tornadoes will use the Ahmadu Bello Stadium when they host Santoba FC of Guinea in the Confederations Cup. Rangers got a bye to the first round of the Confederations Cup. It is a very short pre-season for the teams on the continent, especially Kano Pillars and Niger Tornadoes.
While we wait for the NPFL to resume (September 22 tentatively), we will have to make do with our Nigerian teams on the continent and our Nigerian ambassadors plying outside the country.
Alex Iwobi’s deadline day move from Arsenal to Everton got so many Nigerians and Gooners emotional and pondering. The #Big17 will most likely feature in more regular games with the Toffees compared to his role recently at Arsenal. Good luck Alex.
The competitive season has begun, keep aside the frivolities of pre-season and experiments. It is time for business. Are you ready for the rock and roll. Don’t forget that VAR will feature in the Premier League this season.
Oh, my predictions: Arsenal will finish in top four and reach a cup final; Two Nigerian teams will feature in the group stage of the CAF Club competitions.
Time to go.