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NPFL “Super 6”: First day kicks off with Rivers United victory, two draws

By Ekene Dike
The 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) kicked off its Championship Playoff “Super 6” stage on Saturday in Lagos. Pan-Africa Football contributor Ekene Dike was in attendance and below is his experience, photos, videos and recap of the day’s action.

A scene from the final match of the day between Bendel Insurance and Lobi Stars at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos

The inaugural edition of the Nigeria Professional Football League Championship Playoffs kicked off yesterday at the magnificent Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos with six clubs in contention for who shall be crowned as champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League this season.

Enyimba FC , Remo Stars FC, Bendel Insurance FC, Lobi Stars FC, Sunshine Stars FC and Rivers United FC are the participants of the maiden edition. The top three clubs will be representing Nigeria in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup while the top team will be crowned as the undisputed champions.

Two hours before kickoff, the fans and players of the clubs were enjoying the glamorous atmosphere of the stadium. Fans of Enyimba were making their presence felt before the opening fixture between Enyimba and Remo Stars.

Proper business took center stage by 2pm when the players of Enyimba and Remo Stars stormed the pitch to play the first match in front of an eager crowd of supporters as well as the Super Eagles head coach, Jose Peseiro.

Both sides gave each other a lot of respect in the first half as it ended 0-0 at the break. Finally, the first goal of the day came fifteen minutes after the restart courtesy of an Adiele Eriugo strike to give the People’s Elephant of Enyimba a 1-0 lead and the fans went absolutely over the moon.

Seventeen minutes later, veteran striker Junior Lokosa restored parity with his first touch after coming on as a substitute for Remo Stars. Enyimba put their noses in front again after the league’s top scorer Emeka Obioma converted from the penalty spot in the 81st minute.

Remo Stars were conjuring various waves of attack and their fans felt the referee was biased as they let out their frustrations. Their gusto was finally rewarded right at the death when they won a free kick which was cleverly slotted into the net by Nduku Junior. The defender gave supporters of the Sky Blue Stars unbridled joy after the Ogun State based club came from behind twice to force a 2-2 draw after the final whistle.

Nduku Junior snatched a point for Remo Stars with his late equalizer from a set piece

Remo Stars players thank their supporters for making the trip from Ogun State

The second match which of the day between Rivers United and Sunshine Stars which started by 4:30pm was less eventful in terms of goalscoring like the first game. A Gideon Duru penalty kick in the 64th minute was enough to separate the sides on the day, however, his exciting jubilant scenes after the goal was synonymous to that of Siphiwe Tshabalala’s in the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Duru and his teammates came up with a jocular dancing show after his goal.

Rivers United left back Gideon Duru converts from the spot for the winning goal against Sunshine Stars

After Rivers United registered the first win of the day, it was time for the high flying Bendel Insurance and Lobi Stars to round up the opening match day fixtures. Just before kickoff, Bendel Insurance supporters portrayed their cumbersome love for the only unbeaten club in this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League campaign as they played their trumpets aloud to the maximum volume.

Be that as it may, the game was very cagey. None of the sides was able to unlock two solid defenses and it ended in a 0-0 draw. That was all from the first day of the Nigeria Professional Football League Super Six Championship Playoffs.

Nigeria’s biggest football fiesta will continue on Monday, June 5th. There are three games lined up for the day as Lobi Stars lock horns with Enyimba, Rivers United face Remo Stars while Bendel Insurance will aim to prevent Sunshine Stars from shining.

Bendel Insurance 0-0 Lobi Stars: Highlights

Scores & Next Fixtures

June 3 Scores

Enyimba 2-2 Remo Stars

Sunshine Stars 0-1 Rivers United

Bendel Insurance 0-0 Lobi Stars

June 5 Fixtures

Lobi Stars v Enyimba

Rivers United v Remo Stars

Bendel Insurance v Sunshine Stars

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