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New Dawn in NPFL as Away Teams Dominate Opening Weekend
*Abia Warriors, Tornadoes, 3SC, Remo Stars, Rivers Utd pick vital points
Femi Solaja in Ikenne
It was a contrasting fortune for home teams on Match Day-1 of the Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL) as many away teams picked vital points as the long-awaited domestic topflight were played to complete the opening round.
Returnee Bendel Insurance of Benin City had set the pace penultimate weekend, picking the vital points away in the official opening match of the season against former Champions Akwa United at Uyo.
Abia Warriors similarly took a short trip to Rangers new home in Awka to score two late goals in each half to pick the maximum points. Bello Lukman and Yakub Hammed did the job for Abia.
Niger Tornadoes also went away to pick valuable three points with their 2-0 at Wikki Tourist. Earlier on Saturday, Enyimba of Aba won 2-1 away at Nasarawa United to complete the away team victories on this match-day 1.
However, teams like Dakkada United, Sunshine Stars, Gombe United and Shooting Stars of Ibadan all secured useful draw in away grounds on Sunday evening.
The Oluyole Warriors were cruising to away win at Plateau United, leading 3-1 but the home side rallied back with two late goals to leave the score line at 3-3.
Goals from Izuchukwu Chimezie in the 73rd minute and Onyebuchi Ifeanyi in the 81st minute earned the Plateau team a share of the spoil.
At Ikenne, one of Nigeria’s representatives in the CAF Confederation Cup tournament last season, Remo Stars, were the better side against returnee, El-Kanemi Warriors. They however wasted several scoring opportunities until 30th minute when Samuel Anakwe scored from a long range blast while Ezekiel Edidong completed the win with a volley in the vital area for the second goal of the match.
Kwara United failed to take the home advantage as Gombe United proved difficult in their goalless outing.
Defending champions, Rivers United, had to rely on a late goal before they could earn maximum points against 10-man Lobi Stars in Port Harcourt.
Maurice Chukwu opened the score for the home side in the 16th minute but Abba Umar levelled the score in the 55th minute but Sunday Chukwu disrupted the game plan for the visitors when he got a second yellow card and got sent off. A late minute penalty scored by Bolaji Sarki assured the defending champions full points.
NPFL MATCH DAY- 1
Kwara Utd 0-0 Gombe Utd
Plateau Utd 3-3 Shooting Stars
Remo Stars 2-0 El-Kanemi
Nasarawa 1-2 Enyimba
Akwa Utd 0-2 B’Insurance
Rangers 0-2 Abia Warriors
Bayelsa Utd 1-1 Dakkada
Doma Utd 1-1 Sunshine Stars
Rivers Utd 2-1 Lobi Stars
Wikki Tourist 0-2 Tornadoes