Ifeanyi stumble at home and other NPFL Hot Takes

Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix

There were great goals aplenty this past weekend in the Nigeria Professional Football League, and MFM FC striker Stephen Odey extended his dominance at the top of the goal charts.

But the weekend's biggest talking point came from Nnewi, where FC Ifeanyi Ubah not only lost their 100 percent home win record, but came close to losing all three points against relegation-threatened Gombe United.

Here's a look at that, as well as a few other talking points from game week 31.


Two years after their stadium was opened, FC Ifeanyi Ubah have finally lost their home invincibility, to relegation strugglers no less.

Supporters of FC Ifeanyi Ubah describe stadium in Nnewi as The Fortress. And so they should. The club had won every single game played there to date. Until Gombe United came calling on Sunday.

Such was the confidence the club had in their home ground, and their under-estimation of the visitors, that leading striker Godwin Obaje was given the weekend off to get married.

It all started well for the hosts. Two superb free kicks from Isaac Loute helped them race into a two-goal lead in the first half, with the potential for even more.

But the visitors flipped the script in the second half, as Sanni Abanni and former Ifeanyi Ubah player Austin Oladapo bagged the goals to draw level.

But the drama did not end there. With the board going up to signal five additional minutes, the home side pushed forward for the winner, only to leave themselves exposed at the back. Gombe duly took advantage, launching a deadly counter attack that ended in a low cross and a tap in.

But, the referee called time on the match at the very moment the ball was about to be tapped into the net, and with two minutes of the added time still to be played.


It was not so long ago that Sunshine looked all but condemned to relegation, especially after losing a winnable home game.

But four wins from five, including a road win at Rivers United and Sunday's slim win over El Kanemi, catapulted the Akure Gunners all the way up to the relative safety of 11th position on the log.

It is a remarkable turnaround for Duke Udi's men and represents a win for the positive spirit that the former Super Eagle has maintained since taking over the job from Austin Eguavoen.

Sunshine now only need to win three of their remaining seven games to be safe.


Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma had been under pressure in recent weeks, even more so after his side's midweek home loss to Sunshine Stars.

After a crisis meeting called by the team owners, Eguma was subsequently issued with an ultimatum: Win the next few games or face sanctions.

His players responded admirably to the challenge, putting three goals past fellow strugglers Wikki Tourists on Sunday.

For a team that rarely scores more than a goal a game, and had never cracked the three-goal ceiling all season, it appears the ultimatum was a good way to shock the squad to a worthy performance.


Since overcoming their early troubles to turn their season around, Akwa United have continued to show remarkable character as they chase for a place in the top three.

Nasarawa United, who claimed a road win at Sunshine Stars last weekend, looked on course for another shock result when Aminu Kadir put them went in front before half time.

But Ubong Friday netted his seventh of the season to level things at the break and it was left to Christian Pyagbara to secure the win with a superb combination of team effort and individual brilliance in the second half.

The Promise Keepers stayed third on the log and with a game in hand, could well be on their way to a CAF Champions League spot.


The victory song of the Shooting Stars' 1-0 win over hard fighting Enyimba FC was almost marred by an awkward collapse of stand-in skipper Sylvanus Ebiaku midway into the exciting encounter.

Ebiaku had gone in with a sweeping tackle against a rampaging opponent but landed on his head and passed out. The sudden and unusual gesticulations of few players around the area attracted the referee's attention to Ebiaku's prone body.

The incident prompted the arrival of combined medics and ambulance who resuscitated him to a conscious state before he was drove out in the ambulance for further medical attention.