By Nicholas Obisike
Kano Pillars jumped to the summit of the 2017/2018 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Sunday after snatching a vital point away at Rangers International Football Club of Enugu.
The two teams played a 1-1 draw in the Day 10 fixture. Enyimba International of Aba also climbed to the top ahead of Day 9 leaders, Akwa United after beating visiting Sunshine Stars of Akure 2-1.
Both Pillars and Enyimba now have 17 points each, after 10 matches, but Akwa United now third with 16 points can turn the table again, with two matches in hand.
The change of order at the top of the league coincided with the comment by Akinade Onigbinde, the Coach of FRSC FC, who said Nigeria’s Professional Football League(NPFL) has improved with recent away defeats of home clubs by visiting sides.
Onigbinde told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Rivers United away stunning defeat of Kwara United in Ilorin was one of the many evidences of the improved league.
He urged football administrators and lovers to continue to support Nigeria’s league, which according to him, is evolving into greatness.
“Before, it was very difficult for home teams to lose on their own pitches coupled with fans’ restiveness.
” But today, football is played the way it is supposed to be done just like in Europe and other climes,” he said.
The coach, who expressed total confidence in the viability of Nigeria’s league in competing favourably with the English League in future, called for collective responsibility of all stakeholders.
In the match in Enugu, Rangers took the lead in the 41st minute of the match through Godwin Aguda to make their dominance count before the break.
The Flying Antelopes started the second half brightly but collapsed as the game progressed, which made the visiting Pillars to peg them back for the entirety of the second half.
Junior Lokosa capitalised on a defensive blunder to draw the visitors level in the 85th minute.
Speaking after the match, Rangers’ Technical Adviser, Olugbenga Ogunbote, said his team played well but were wasteful in front of goal.
“We would have scored more than a goal in the match but the players failed to convert lots of chance that they created.
“Before our next match, we are going to work more on our scoring ability to ensure we come away with a good result against Plateau United and others in our forthcoming matches,’’ he said.
Kano Pillars’ Technical Adviser, Ibrahim Musa, said his team were in Enugu for the three points considering the outcome of their last home match against Enyimba International FC of Aba.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Day 9 match had ended 1-1 in Kano.
“Actually, we missed Chinedu Udoji because he was a good player but what can we do as it is a matter of death. So, we have to keep doing well in his absence.
“Udoji’s absence affected the players. If not, we would have been singing aloud because we have to change our game plan so that we can have a good replacement for him,’’ Musa said.
He however noted that Rangers are a good side who were unable to read the game as necessary.
”We took advantage of that,” he said.
The duo of Ogunbote and Musa however praised the match’s officiating, saying such good officiating would improve the league.