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NPFL 2023/24 Winners And Losers

The 2023/20224 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) ended on Sunday, 23rd of June, 2024.

According to Punchng, this report dwells on achievements, disappointments and near misses of the league after 38 rounds of matches.

WINNERS

Rangers crowned champions

Enugu Rangers were crowned champions of the Nigeria Premier Football League for the eighth time in their history on Sunday and they capped their season with a 2-1 away win against Gombe United at the New Jos Stadium.

The league champions were welcomed into the mainbowl of the New Jos Stadium with a guard of honour by their relegated opponents and general manager of Rangers, Amobi Ezeaku captained the Flying Antelopes for his second appearance in the league.

Fidelis Ilechukwu’s men were off to a flying start with two goals inside seven minutes courtesy of Kazeem Ogunleye and Godwin Obaje. 

Anas Hassan pulled one back for the Savannah Scorpions but the Flying Antelopes didn’t feel the sting, holding on to their lead and winning the title by five points.

Enugu Rangers had sealed the league title last week and ended the season with 70 points.

Remo and Enyimba continental tickets

With the title already settled before the final day, second-placed Remo Stars and third-placed Enyimba still found themselves in must-win situations to seal their place in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup respectively next season.

In Ikenne, Remo took their destiny into their hands against Katsina United winning 2-1 to seal the second spot and a continental ticket for the third time in their history.

The league’s top assist provider and newly capped Super Eagles defender, Sodiq Ismail waited till the last day of the season to get a goal of his own for Remo’s opener before Dayo Ojo doubled the advantage.

Former champions Enyimba however left it late in Aba as an 78th minute goal from Chijioke Mbaoma plus another from Alade Balogun in the 88th minute saw them beat Plateau United 2-0.

Were they held to a goalless draw, the third spot and the CAF Confederation Cup ticket would have gone to 3SC who beat Sporting Lagos 1-0 in Ibadan.

Mbaoma wins Eunisell Golden Boot

Enyimba striker Chijioke Mbaoma can see himself as N3.4m richer for winning the NPFL Eunisell Golden Boot with 17 goals. Each goal is valued by the sponsors at N200,000.

Before the final day, he led the goal chart with 16 goals, one more than Remo Stars’ Sikiru Alimi and he added one more on Sunday to steer clear of his challenger who failed to score.

The bullish striker started the season slowly, scoring just twice in his first 10 appearances but he added more as soon as he broke his duck.

Mbaoma succeeds his former Enyimba teammate, Emeka Obioma as the winner of the award.

Safe hands Obasogie

Despite Bendel Insurance’s unimpressive performance this season, their goalkeeper Amas Obasogie was head and shoulder above other goalkeepers in the league with 18 clean sheets. 

He had three more than Kayode Bankole of Remo Stars and Kingdom Osayi of Doma United who both had 15. 

Title challengers last season with an unprecedented 21-game unbeaten record in the league, the Benin Arsenal finished the 2023/24 season in ninth position with 53 points.

Bayelsa United, Akwa United survive

Former champions Bayelsa United and Akwa United survived relegation in the final.

Winners in 2009, Bayelsa United defeated Bendel Insurance 2-0 in Benin City to move up to 15th in the table with 50 points.

2021 champions, Akwa United also recorded a 3-1 win over Rivers United at home to end the season with 49 points in 16th position.

For all their woes throughout the season, both teams earned the right to be called winners by retaining their NPFL status on the final day.

LOSERS

Sporting Lagos back to NNL

Just one season in the NPFL, Sporting Lagos are back in the Nigeria National League, the second tier. They were doomed for relegation after a 1-0 defeat against 3SC in Ibadan.

They needed a win against the Oluyole Warriors to be sure of their safety but that would not have been enough, considering other results which saw Bayelsa United and Akwa United record wins.

The Lagos club started the season under manager Paul Offor, but he was sacked with eight games remaining in the league while they were 13th in the table.

Sacking Offor didn’t prove right eventually as new coach Abdullahi Biffo could not ensure their safety, losing four, drawing two and winning only two of their final matches, leaving them 17th in the table with 46 points.

Doma doomed

From finishing the first half of the season in third place to being the team with the longest streak of matches without conceding a goal this season (nine), Doma United, unfortunately, find themselves back in the second tier.

They ended the campaign with a 1-1 home draw against Abia Warriors and winless in their last five matches. Their fortunes began to dwindle in January, losing 12 matches plus seven draws and just three wins.

In their two seasons in the NPFL, the Savannah Scorpions and their fans in Gombe will relish their first campaign where they almost made the NPFL Super 6 playoffs.

The other relegated teams are Heartland and Gombe United.

3SC late resurgence not enough

Five-time Nigerian champions Shooting Stars would have been among the winners of the season, but agonizingly missing out on a continental ticket on the final day is as bad as losing.

The Oluyole Warriors ended the season with 62 points in fourth position, just a point behind Enyimba.

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