The 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League season is set for grand kick-off this weekend across the country.
As expected, fans are eager to see their favourite players and clubs in action.
While over 400 players have been registered by the various clubs, PREMIUM TIMES makes a careful selection of seven players to look out for this season on the domestic scene.
It is expected that the selected players will justify their pre-season ratings and not cave in under the weight of expectation on their shoulders.
The goalkeeper is one of the few home-based players that have become a regular feature in the national team, the Super Eagles.
Ezenwa was initially linked with a move to Spain where it was reported that some Spanish teams were interested in him after churning out good performances in the Spain tour embarked upon by the NPFL All-Star team recently.
Presently with Billionaire Club, FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Ezenwa is expected to play a key role as the Anambra Warriors challenge for the League title, defend the Federation Cup they won last year and also make appreciable impact on the continent in their debut appearance.
Paul Onobi (Abia Warriors)
The box-to-box midfielder is returning to the home front after a brief stint in Europe where he played for KuPs of Finland.
The former Sunshine Stars ace hugged the headlines when he started the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Swaziland while a fit Mikel John Obi sat on the bench during the Coach Sunday Oliseh era with the national team.
The all-action midfielder with bullets packed in his feet did not disappoint and many are happy that he is back in the NPFL to add flair to the Abia Warriors teams.
Gabriel Wassa (Rivers United)
Another revelation from last season was the erstwhile Niger Tornadoes ace who literally played his way to earn a call-up to the NPFL All-Star team that went to Spain for a pre-season tournament.
The highly rated left-back who was a standout performer in the colours of Niger Tornadoes last season has since sealed one of the best moves of his career to Port-Harcourt where he will hope to showcase his potentials to the African continent
Mfon Udoh (Enyimba)
While he emerged as the top scorer in the CAF Champions League last season, Mfon failed to deliver on the home front as Enyimba recorded one of their worst season performances in recent times.
However, having been handed the captain’s armband by incoming coach Gbenga Ogunbote, many expect to see a new Mfon Udoh who still holds the record of the highest goals scored in a season in the Nigerian League.
Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars)
A midfield maestro a and one of the highest paid players on the domestic scene, Rabiu is easily seen as the engine room for Pillars.
Quite experienced in the league and the national team, much is expected from Rabiu as the Pyramid Boys seek to force themselves back to reckoning this season.
Ismaila Gata (Enyimba International):
Regarded as one of most sought after strikers in the NPFL, Gaita who has made a move from FC Ifeanyi Ubah to Enyimba is one of the players to look out for.
Indeed, Gata who scored 15 league goals last season should be able to solve one of the major problems of Enyimba last season; which was the profligacy in front of goal by the Aba Elephants.
Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United).
After emerging as one of the best players at MFM FC last season, Ifeanyi has exited his Lagos team for a new challenge with Akwa United.
From his midfield role, Ifeanyi contributed four league goals last season to help the Olukoya Boys stay afloat. The Youth international was one of the fans’ favourites for his superlative performance. His move to Akwa United has helped Coach Abdu Maikaba build a strong team with quality in the midfield.