Football is a game of surprises and analysts are sometimes left with eggs on their faces after supposed expert predictions.
An example that readily comes to mind will be the amazing feat by Leicester City last season in the Premier League when the relegation battlers against all odds put up an amazing display which saw them going all the way to claim an historic EPL title.
That said, the Nigerian League is set for a thrilling start this weekend and going by a whole lot factors PREMIUM TIMES makes a pick of five teams that are most Likely going to finish as champions at the end of the 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL season.
After a 32-year tortuous wait, Enugu Rangers ended their trophy drought in style, claiming the 2015/16 NPFL title.
The Flying Antelopes as the Coal-City team are fondly called, were indeed worthy winners going by the numbers they had to their name last season.
It will not be out of place to stick out for Rangers retaining the NPFL title especially as the club have done a good job keeping the bulk of the players that helped them to the title last season while adding few more quality players to boost their rank.
The astute tactician, Imama Amakapabor, remains in the driver’s seat at Rangers and has spoken highly of his desire to show that winning the League last term was no fluke. How well he fulfills this mission is yet to be seen.
Rangers are to begin their title defense with a derby clash against Abia Warriors on Sunday. We patiently wait to see where they will end after 38 games.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah
The ambitious Anambra Club run by billionaire business man, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, are seen as genuine contenders even though this is just their second season in the top flight.
With much money to throw around, FC Ifeanyi Ubah have a rich quality squad that have the best of Nigerian players and foreigners alike, including Brazilians.
The Federation Cup holders recently added another feather to their cap by beating Rangers in the Charity Cup game played midweek in Abuja.
Starting the season with a tough away clash to Kano Pillars, the Anambra Warriors are keen to show just how ready they are to conquer the Nigeria League by posting a good result at the Sani Abacha Stadium which remains one of the most difficult grounds for visiting teams.
Going by their pre-season preparations and the new additions to their team, Rivers United can go a step higher than they finished last season in the NPFL.
The Pride of Rivers finished second last season, losing the title on the final day to Rangers. But this time, they look much better prepared.
Rivers United, aside winning the Super Four tourney, a competition put together for the top-four finishers in the League last season, also had a robust playing tour in Spain where they posted commendable results.
Seen as one of the best motivated teams, Rivers United are among the firm favourites for the League title this season.
The seven-time League champions were only a shadow of themselves last season as they finished in a disappointing 10th position.
No fewer than 15 players left Enyimba in pre-season, in what was described by bookmakers as massive restructuring at the club.
With the new arrivals, especially the hiring of Coach Gbenga Ogbubote who is one of the most trusted hands in the Nigerian League, the Peoples’ Elephant could emerge as the first team to win the league a record eight times
Eighteen new players have teamed up with veteran Coach, Kadiri Ikhana, at Kano Pillars with the mission of seeing the Pyramid Boys return to the summit of domestic football.
Famous for their hat-trick of league title triumphs between 2011 and 2014, Pillars are desperate to shoot themselves back to reckoning.
Kano Pillars will have the honour of hosting the star match of Match Day One in Kano just like they did last season when they defeated Enugu Rangers 3-2 in a closely fought battle.
This season, they welcome the 2016 Federation Cup champions, FC IfeanyiUbah, and Pillars would be looking to kick start the season with a win right in front of their fans.