The 2020/21 NPFL season has reached the last round of matches, with teams fighting at both ends of the table for safety from the drop and for the continental tickets.
After Akwa United secured the league title following their Matchday 37 clash with MFM FC, they were confirmed as the league’s champions and first representatives at next season’s CAF Champions League. The other slot for next season’s Champions League and lone CAF Confederation Cup slot are still up for grabs, with Nasarawa United, Kano Pillars, Rivers United, Enyimba, Kwara United all separated by only three points in the race going into the final round of fixtures.
Continental ticket-chasing sides Enyimba, Nasarawa United, Rivers United and Kano Pillars all face daunting away trips on the last day, with Kwara United the only side among the five set to host a match at home on the final day. Enyimba coach Fatai Osho showed his frustration at his side’s inability to pick up maximum points at home against Sunshine Stars on Matchday 37.
At the other end of the table, destiny has caught up with Adamawa United after they escaped relegation in the botched 2019/20 season, as they were finally relegated from the league. They have been joined by FC Ifeanyi Ubah after an abysmal season from the Anambra Warriors. Currently in the relegation zone with them are Warri Wolves and Sunshine Stars FC on 41 and 42 points, respectively. The bottom of the table is so tight that only three points separates 13th place , Heartland and Sunshine Stars in 17th, meaning that Heartland, Abia Warriors, Jigawa Golden Stars and Wikki Tourists are all in danger of falling into the relegation zone at the end of Matchday 38. The fixtures in full are below;
Relegation-threatened Abia Warriors will welcome Nasarawa United to the Okigwe Township Stadium in a must-win clash for both sides.
Enyimba will have a formidable opponent at hand when they square up to Dakkada FC at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo. The Chosen Ones are assured of a mid-table finish, and can spoil Enyimba’s party by ensuring they do not take anything away from the match.
Rangers International will host Plateau United in a match of no real ramifications for either side with respect to their final league positions at the Cathedral, the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah has the chance of choosing to take a companion along with them to the NNL when they host fellow strugglers Warri Wolves at the Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium in Nnewi on the final day of the season. Anything but a win for Warri Wolves would almost certainly send them to the NNL.
Heartland FC will take on Kano Pillars at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri, knowing that they would be completely safe from relegation if they manage to avoid defeat at the hands of Kano Pillars. On the other hand, Kano Pillars needs to win to be sure of picking up a continental ticket at the end of the day.
Kwara United is the team with the advantage as they host Katsina United at the Kwara State Sports Complex. The Afonja Warriors would look to make the most of their home advantage to pick up the required win and put themselves in a great position to pick up a continental ticket.
Lobi Stars will welcome the league champions Akwa United to the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi for their Matchday 38 encounter. The match will have no real bearing as Lobi Stars are poised to finish in eighth place regardless of the results of the match.
MFM FC will take on relegation-threatened Jigawa Golden Stars at the Soccer Temple in Agege. Jigawa Golden Stars will face an uphill task against the Olukoya Boys as a defeat for them can spell the end of their stay in the NPFL as a top-flight side.
Sunshine Stars will face Rivers United at the Ondo State Sports Complex in a must-win match for both sides. The home side would be looking for a win to complete a miraculous escape from relegation to the NNL, while the Pride of Rivers would be looking to claim a win that would assure them of a place on the continent next season.
Adamawa United will pay a visit to Wikki Tourists at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi, knowing that a win would confirm the relegation of Wikki to the second tier of Nigerian football. Wikki Tourists would be looking to avoid defeat, and win against Adamawa United in order to stand a chance of remaining in the NPFL next season.