There are still 14 matches until the end of the Nigeria Professional Football League, and the race to the top is more scrambled than ever. Only four points separate the top team, Rivers United, from the second place, Plateau United. Although ten points still set the second and third positions apart, there’ll also be a fierce fight for the third position. Enugu Rangers (3rd), Remo Stars (4th), and Sunshine Stars (5th) are separated by just two points.
Still, the fight for the trophy now seems to be between two teams: Rivers United, with 52 points, and Plateau United, with 48 points. A schedule of 14 matches means that every team will have the chance to fight for 42 points. So, anything can happen even if the 3rd position isn’t that close to the top. Is it too soon to guess the champion?
The Current State
On Match Day 19, both teams came out victorious. Rivers crushed the former champions, Akwa United, by 4-1. Meanwhile, Plateau United scored a satisfying yet unsurprising victory over the Sunshine Stars, by 2-0. Plateau United completed a winning streak of 11 games in that match.
The Sunshine Stars broke Plateau’s winning streak in the next match, scoring 1-0. Meanwhile, Rivers remained unbeaten, widening the difference to four points over the second position. Still, a disappointing draw against Akwa Utd after the first game’s performance shows that Plateau still stands a chance to close the gap. Follow the 10bet Ghana site for the latest news about the next fixtures, odds, and predictions.
Plateau United has been building a solid campaign since the beginning of the league, with nearly perfect records. The team hasn’t lost a game at home yet. It’s undoubtedly the strongest contender the Rivers will face this season. Plateau’s results are even more impressive when considering it changed its coach not too long ago.
Additionally, the team had also got many new players on the field. Plateau’s vice-captain, Andrew Ikefe, attributes such a successful campaign to their “winning mentality” and “team spirit and believe”. Such “belief” seems contagious, and fans couldn’t be happier about Fidelis Ilechukwu’s work or more optimistic about the future.
Rivers United is having a smashing season, with only one defeat so far. Rivers’ superb campaign has also raised some of its players to stardom. Chijoke Akuneto and Ishaq Kayode are among the most lethal scorers in the competition. Fans and players believe that such success comes from a finely tuned team effort and vital sponsorship support from the largest oil and gas company in West Africa, Eunisell Limited.
Sponsors couldn’t be more satisfied with their investment. Chika Ikenga, the company’s Managing Director, said that Eunisell was “glad to be associated with the club”. Stanley Eguma, the team’s coach, doesn’t lose his cool and doesn’t let talks about becoming the next champion get over his head.
Down the Road
There are 14 Match Days until the end of this season. A schedule of 14 matches means that every team will have the chance to fight for 42 points. So, anything can happen even if the 3rd position isn’t that close to the top. Is it too soon to guess the champion? Stanley Eguma thinks so. He insists it’s still too soon to talk about possible champions. He also stresses that a league is a “marathon race” that must be perfected at every match.
Plateau’s coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, seems to have a different approach. According to Ikefe, the coach has said that “no one can stand” the team in the national league. The vice-captain attributes the team’s successful campaign partially to this mindset.
Anyway, whatever mentality Fidelis Ilechukwu is building in his team, it’s clearly working. The team is having a smashing campaign and could lift the trophy once again after five years. The Rivers United is a fairly new team, born from the merger of the Sharks F.C. and the Dolphins F.C. in 2016. So, the team could be heading to its first NPFL title.
With so many matches to the end of the competition, any descriptive prediction of its outcome could sound like a wild guess. Still, we can always look into the past to predict future trends. Both teams are having a consistently victorious season and are unlikely to drop from where they are, given their distance to the third place.
Although the distance between both teams is widening, 4 points is just too little difference to secure the title so much in advance. So, Eguma’s cautionary words seem well-placed here. Nevertheless, Fidelis Ilechukwu’s approach has undoubtedly increased the team’s drive to win, and it shows in Plateau’s results. Which mental attitude will prevail in the field? Only time can tell.