Four lessons we gleaned from NPFL Matchday Four

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Daniel Jackson waxing stronger for Wikki Tourist

Despite playing for several clubs in the Nigerian league before travelling abroad for greener pasture, Daniel Jackson has shown that he still has what it takes to be at the top. After spending some time in the Mauritius league Jackson has returned home and has been banging in goals for Wikki Tourist. He has scored three goals already after only four games for the Bauchi based side.

He is among the reasons Wikki are flying high in the topflight this season where they are currently third with nine points from four games. It is only time that will tell if the former Dolphins, Niger Tornadoes et al can sustain his early-season form throughout the season.

Lobi Stars further exposed Heartland’s flaws

Heartland had one of the best pre-season activities with friendly games against top teams including Enyimba, Rivers United, FC IfeanyiUbah among others but it is still a surprise that the Naze Millionaires are still struggling after four games. They were beaten by MFM in Okigwe and when they picked a draw against Rivers United in Port Harcourt it was hope rising that the team would secure first win of the season against Akwa Starlets.

But Fidelis Ilechukwu and his boys were unable to lift their game against the newly-promoted side and had to come back from a goal down to pull a draw in front of expectant fans in Okigwe. They had to answers to the early raids of Lobi Stars in Makurdi and were dazed three goals to nil by Gbenga Ogunbote tutored lads on Wednesday. The manner of the defeat in Makurdi was least expected and as they host Jigawa Golden Stars this weekend it is only a home win that will save the face of Ilechukwu and his players.

Akwa Starlets, Adamawa United, Warri Wolves laying the gauntlet for impressive season

Not many would have given Akwa Starlets and Warri Wolves any chance that they would remain unbeaten after four games each in their debut and return to the topflight. The Starlets have faced Heartland, FC IfeanyiUbah and Delta Force and were not beaten in any of the three fixtures while the Seasiders have trade tackles with Sunshine Stars in Akure, Akwa United in Warri and MFM in Lagos without any loss also.

Both are laying the marker to other top teams in the Nigeria Professional Football League that they are ready to compete and that gone are the days when teams from the lower league would only come in to make up the numbers and start battling with the relegation zone right from the start of the season.

Adamawa United too prevented Enugu Rangers who are seven times league champions from beating them on neutral ground in Gombe and they pinned Abia Warriors by a lone goal on Thursday too.

Who will be the first manager to be sacked in the 2019/20 NPFL season?

Some teams have been struggling since the beginning of the season and it is difficult to predict what may happen to the coaches of these teams in the coming weeks.

Akwa United unveiled John Obuh and Duke Udi at the beginning of the season as head coach and deputy head coach respectively but their connection is yet to produce the expected results for the Promise Keepers who have narrowly missed the league title in the last three seasons. They are winless after four games and only boast of three points from possible 12. It is even worrisome that they are yet to score a goal in front of their fans after playing two home games against Abia Warriors and Katsina United.

Akwa United management under Paul Bassey leadership has shown in the past that it is unwilling to make excuses or be a party to anything that will jeopardize the chances of the team. will he wield the big stick?

Kano Pillars are also another big team that are struggling in the league this season. They have played three home matches technically but have only garnered a point from possible nine. They were held by Rivers United in the opening fixture of the season but lost the next game in Kano to Lobi Stars. They also had the opportunity of facing a newly promoted side, Jigawa Golden Stars in Kano, where the Dutse side are based but they were unable to make the home advantage count and fell 1-0.

It is rumoured that the team head coach, Ibrahim Musa has been served three-game ultimatum but will the Kano Pillars wait for the results of the three games before making a decision?

Heartland’s Fidelis Ilechukwu, Delta Force’s Mbwas Mangut, Benedict Ugwu of Enugu Rangers are some of the clubs whose coaches’ jobs could be under scrutiny in the coming days if their teams do not secure appreciable results in the next set of games.    

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