The Mathematics of Staying Alive in the NPFL

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The last matches of the 2015/16 season of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) hold on Sunday in nine centres with focus on the champions emerging from either Enugu or Uyo. However, DURO IKHAZUAGBE insists the real battle for survival is in Agege, Jos, Warri and Umuahia

The Super Sunday of the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) coming up barely four days from now is like no other in the modern era of club football in the country. After the league went down the wire last weekend with Rangers International emerging the front runner on 60 points till the last game, anything is still capable of happening on the last day.

Though, everything points in the direction of fans of the Flying Antelopes celebrating at the Cathedral in Enugu as they need just a point from the clash with El Kanemi to be crowned champions, Rivers United are not giving up the fight until the last whistle. They however do not have their fate in their hands. Playing away to Akwa United at their fortress in Nest of Champions in Uyo appears a tough one for the Rivers team who are seeking the ultimate crown at the first asking. Being three clear points behind Rangers is making the mission a difficult one to achieve. Of course, both IfeanyiUbah (56 points) and Wikki Tourists (54 points) in the third and fourth positions are waiting in the wing to profit from any slip in Uyo. This is the situation at the top.

However, while the scrabble for the top spots rages, the situation playing out in the bottom of the table is not a funny one to behold. Already, due to the infraction of the rules of the premier league, Jos team, Giwa FC is sitting at the bottom while Ikorodu United has also bid the topflight good bye after just a season. The battle for the two teams to join Giwa and Ikorodu to the lower division holds so much promise with four teams in the dogs’ fight to stay alive.

Warri Wolves and church team, MFM FC are on 42 points in the 18th and 17th spots while Heartland (43points) and Abia Warriors (45th) occupy the 16th and 15th places. Any of these teams can drop based on the final day results.

Heartland is guest to Plateau United while Abia Warriors hosts Shooting stars. MFM FC is to welcome continental chasing FC IfeanyiUbah just as Warri Wolves engages Ikorodu United in Warri.

Fans of Heartland will be hoping for a miracle to happen against Plateau United in Jos. Since the formation of the club as Spartans FC in 1976, it will be the first time the Naze Millionaires will be going down to the lower division if the unexpected happens on Sunday. A win in Jos makes results in Warri and Agege irrelevant. But if they fail, a win for Wolves or MFM makes their staying in the topflight a subject of mathematical calculation of the goal difference.

MFM FC midfielder, Onuwa Chukwuka, is looking at the last game with IfeanyiUbah differently. To him and his colleagues, their careers depend on the continued stay of MFM in the NPFL.

The former Heartland player observed yesterday: “”This is the last match of the season for all of us and it is a must win. Our lives and career depend on this game. We cannot afford to lose this match because we do not want to disappoint our fans, families and management.

“We started the season brightly but at some point, our inexperience in the premier league showed. Don’t forget this is our first season in the top flight. We have learnt our lessons and we pray God will crown our efforts with success and remain in the topflight,” the church team player prayed.