The 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL season is set for a thrilling climax this Saturday as a new champion is set to be crowned.
Though Plateau United are in prime position for a maiden League title, they still have work to do as they host reigning League champions, Enugu Rangers, at the Rwang Pam Stadium.
Coach Kennedy Boboye-tutored side need an outright win in Jos to bother less about what happens in the tie miles away in Maiduguri between other title-contenders MFM FC and El-Kanemi Warriors.
Already, the League Management Company have made arrangements that the two games in Jos and Maiduguri will be aired live on television.
Plateau United captain Elisha Golbe said they are focused, and unfazed by the numbers.
He told npfl.ng: “We are battle ready, we are looking forward to lifting the league title. The game against Rangers is like a cup final for us and we are taking it very seriously. We have not come this far to miss out on the trophy.”
The coach of MFM FC has also been quoted in the media saying that he will resign from his post if he fails to get a win in Maiduguri provided the game is aired on television.
Going into the final day, Plateau United lead MFM FC just by a point; having 63 while the Olukoya Boys have 62 after both playing 37 games.
While it is going to the wire at the top, it is more intriguing at the base of the table as the relegation battle is quite dramatic.
As it stands, just Remo Stars and Gombe United have been relegated. Two spots are now left to be confirmed to complete the quartet that will drop to the second tier at the end of this campaign.
Mathematically, 13 clubs – from sixth to 18th position on the league table – could end up being relegated. In 18th place, ABS FC have 50 points and Lobi in sixth have 53 but it will take the Ilorin club a huge Cricket-like scoreline to usurp Lobi depending on results elsewhere as they play on the road.
For ABS, Wikki Tourists and Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC), it looks like a touch-and-go situation as a slip-up by any of them in their games on the road at Nasarawa United, Gombe United and Niger Tornadoes could mean the tolling of a bell. However, Abia Warriors, Tornadoes, Sunshine Stars, Katsina United, Rivers United, El-Kanemi, Rangers, FC Ifeanyiubah and Nasarawa United complete the roll call of the 13 still in the battle for survival.
Lobi Stars, still statistically in the race for survival, will look up to their leading scorer Anthony Okpotu to help them in the final day game at FC Ifeanyiubah.
Okpotu will also look to finish top scorer in the league this term. He needs just a goal to do so, and at the same time reach 70 goals in the NPFL especially with MFM’s Stephen Odey on same 18 goals with him now in Switzerland to tie up a deal with a club.
The battle for the gloves is already done and dusted with Nasarawa United goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso on 15 clean sheets, two more than Mustapha Aliko of Tornadoes and Akwa United’s Olorunleke Ojo. Aliko and Ojo can only finish with 14 clean sheets apiece if their teams do not concede on Saturday.
After 237 calendar days (as at 7 September) of 370 league matches that produced 741 goals averaging two goals per game, the NPFL meanders into one last matchday this term with a new champion waiting to be crowned.