Last season’s top three begin quest for NPL honours

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Enyimba, Remo Stars and Rivers United, the podium finishers at the last season’s Nigeria premier League play-off begin action this Sunday hoping victories in their first matches this season.

The trio had their Match Day 1 fixtures postponed owing to continental engagements of Rivers United who were to host Remo Stars and also that of Bendel Insurance who were to be away to Enyimba.

The three teams are back in action playing their Match Day 2. Remo Stars host Enugu Rangers in Ikenne in what could be the toughest match of the week.

When both met in May 2021 Remo Stars won 1-0. The reversed leg in Enugu ended goalless.

That may have informed Rangers’ coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu’s anticipation of a tough match. Last season, he led Plateau United to the same stadium and was able to get away with a draw.

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He is quoted by Punch newspapers as acknowledging the tough challenge by Remo Stars, but he is optimistic that starting the season with a win over Doma United have lifted their spirits.

Instead of their normal practice of honouring away matches by travelling by road, Enugu Rangers took a flight to Lagos and then embarked on the short trip to Ikenne.

Remo Stars who have in the past three seasons been having steady rise in Nigerian football scene are hopeful to win the title this time. In the previous season, they finished third on the log.

Last season, they were runners-up. This might be their season if the steady growth is maintained.

Writing on Platform X (previously Twitters), Remo Stars’ coach, Daniel Ogunmodede hopes to begin their title chase on a winning note.

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“We are fully focused and ready to kick off the 2023/2024 NPFL season with a bang. Let’s make history, one game at a time.”

For Rivers United, Nigeria’s sole survivor in the continental venture, the team hope to keep the momentum as they face Niger Tornadoes. They also hope to  maintain their unbeaten record against the Minna side. Niger Tornadoes lost their opening match by a lone goal to Abia Warriors on Match Day 1. Another loss, this time at home may spell doom for them.

Defending champions, Enyimba will be away to Gombe United. When they met in May this year, Enyimba beat Gombe 5-0 in Aba. In the earlier leg, Enyimba also won 2-1 to make it a double over the Niger State team.

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