NPFL Matchday 37 Review: Remo Stars, Kwara United in hot chase for CAF Confederation Cup ticket

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.Rangers, Enyimba end continental ticket race
.Heartland, Kano Pillars close in on relegation

The race for the CAF Confederation Cup ticket from the league has now been narrowed down to Remo Stars and Kwara United after both teams secured important victories against Sunshine Stars and MFM respectively as the Matchday 37 fixtures of the 2021-22 Nigeria Professional Football League season were played yesterday across the country.

Before the last weekend games, Enugu Rangers and Enyimba were also in the running for the ticket their dream got evaporated after their defeat to Gombe United and Dakkada FC. They cannot finish in the top four even if they win their final games of the season against Akwa United in Awka and Plateau United in Jos.

Remo Stars protected their unbeaten record against South West teams of MFM, Shooting Stars and Sunshine Stars after they pipped the Owena Whales 1-0 in Akure yesterday. Ekundayo Ojo who is a cult hero at the Ondo Sports Complex having played some seasons for his home club, scored the only goal of the game in the 59th minute.

The win ensured that the Sky Blue Stars held on to the third spot with 59 points and they will pick that spot if they are able to beat Niger Tornadoes at home on Sunday.

Kwara United are currently fourth with 58 points and they are the only team that can deny Remo Stars the CAF Confederation Cup ticket if they slip up. The Harmony Boys defeated already relegated MFM 3-0 through the goals of Junior Lokosa, Issa Gata and Samad Kadiri and they are a point behind Gbenga Ogunbote’s men in the fourth position. Kwara United will visit Owerri on Sunday to face almost relegated Heartland FC. They will seek the three points in Owerri while hoping that Remo Stars fail to secure a win in Ikenne.

The race for the remaining three teams that will join MFM to the lower league has been reduced to two with the defeat suffered by Heartland FC confirming their place in the NNL next season mathematically.

Tornadoes who bagged a precious away win in Ijebu Ode against MFM have all but confirmed their place in the elite division for another season after they came back from a goal down to beat Heartland FC 2-1 in Kaduna. The Owerri side silent fans at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna with the opening goal in the 84th minute but two late goals from Ifeanyi Okoye in the 86th and 92nd minute changed the result.

The Ikon Allah Boys are 11th with 51 points and are three points away from the relegation zone. A draw in Ikenne will be enough to keep them up but Heartland FC who are presently 19th on the log with 44 points are not guaranteed to finish outside the relegation zone even if they beat Kwara United by cricket scores on Sunday in Owerri.

Dakkada FC bolstered their survival chances with an unthinkable 2-0 away win in Aba against Enyimba. Arise Ogundare and Edidiong Stephen got the goals for the Chosen Ones who have been lifted to the 17th spot with 46 points by virtue of the victory. Dakkada must beat Sunshine Stars in Uyo on Sunday while hoping that at least one out of Lobi Stars (49), Shooting Stars (48), Katsina United (48), and Abia Warriors (47) stumble for them to sneak in on the final day of the season.

Lobi Stars pipped Wikki Tourists 3-2, Shooting Stars beat Rivers United 3-2 while Abia Warriors came back twice before picking a draw in Uyo against Akwa United.

In other games played Gombe United pipped Enugu Rangers 1-0 through Ibrahim Yahaya’s strike while a brace from Mustapha Salisu handed Katsina United a 2-0 home win over Plateau United.

At the New Jos Stadium, Jos, Nasarawa United pushed Kano Pillars to the lower league after a 1-0 win through King Osanga 64th minute effort. Pillars are 18th on the log with 45 points with the docked three points from the Nigeria Football Federation Disciplinary Committee on hold until after the NFF Appeals Committee ruling on the infraction during their home game with Dakkada.

NPFL Matchday 37 Results

Kwara Utd 3-0 MFM
Tornadoes 2-1 Heartland
Sunshine Stars 0-1 Remo Stars
Enyimba 0-2 Dakkada
Katsina Utd 2-0 Plateau Utd
Lobi 3-2 Wikki
Akwa Utd 2-2 Abia Warriors
Gombe Utd 1-0 Rangers
3SC 3-2 Rivers Utd
Nasarawa Utd 1-0 Kano Pillars

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