By Chinatu Jon
The wait is finally over! The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is back as there will be a total of 10 games this weekend – 1 on Saturday, January 14 and the rest on the next day, Sunday, January 15.
On Saturday, The NPFL 2016/2017 season will officially kickoff at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano as Kano Pillars, led by veteran coach, Kadiri Ikhana will welcome FC Ifeanyi Ubah, who are still celebrating clinching the double on Wednesday when they defeated league champions, Rangers International FC on penalties to win the Charity Cup, after winning the Federation’s Cup last season.
That win over Rangers seem to banish the hoodoo they endured just after the Federation’s Cup victory which saw the Anambra Warriors hire a Japanese coach, Kenichi Yatsuhashi, only to fire him just after 2 Super 4 games in the off season.
Kano Pillars (Sai Masu Gida) have on the other hand also made notable additions which included the signing of Kadiri Ikhana and Chinedu Udoji who were former Enyimba manager and Captain respectively.
On day 2 of Matchday 1, Sunday 15th January, 3SC will host Lobi Stars FC at the Adamasimgba Stadium in Ibadan, MFM FC will welcome Niger Tornadoes FC to Lagos, ABS Ilorin FC will launch their return to the topflight when they take on Akwa United at the Kwara State Stadium.
2016 runners up, Rivers United FC will face the Ladan Bosso led El-Kanemi Warriors at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt. Champions, Rangers International FC will begin their title defense with a mouthwatering Oriental Derby, when they welcome Abia Warriors, led by former Rangers gaffer, Okey Emordi to the Cathedral, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.
Debutants, Remo Stars FC will begin their quest to stay in the topflight as they welcome a Kennedy Boboye led Plateau United to the Gateway Int’l Stadium in Sagamu.
Continental ticket holders, Wikki Tourists, will at The Tafawa Belewa Stadium in Bauchi, entertain Nasarawa United FC.
7-time Champions, Enyimba International FC will welcome Sunshine Stars FC of Akure to the U. J. Esuene Stadium as their sojourn in unknown land continues for a second season.
Finally, there will be a northern derby as new boys, Katsina United FC will host Gombe United FC in the last but not the least of this weekend’s fixtures.
NPFL MATCHDAY 1 FIXTURES:
Saturday, January 14
Kano Pillars v FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Sunday, January 15
Shooting Stars FC v Lobi Stars FC
MFM FC v Niger Tornadoes FC
ABS Ilorin FC v Akwa United FC
Rivers United FC v El-Kanemi Warriors FC
Rangers International FC v Abia Warriors FC
Katsina United FC v Gombe United FC
Remo Stars FC v Plateau United FC
Enyimba FC v Sunshine Stars FC
Wikki Tourists FC v Nasarawa United FC.
Kickoff for all games is 4pm.