A late Chigozie Obasi goal earned former champions Enyimba a routine win over Abia Warriors in the highlight of Sunday’s action on the opening matchday of the Nigeria Professional Football League’s 2021/22 season.
Finidi George’s Enyimba were in control of the game and new signing Ekene Awazie gave them the lead in the first half, but a 50th-minute goal from Paul Samson dragged Imama Amapakabo’s side level. In the 77th minute, Obasi struck home a freekick to hand the Aba Elephants another win in the derby, making it their seventh triumph in a row.
Defending champions Akwa United thumped former champions, Kano Pillars, 3-0. Strikers Stephen Chukwude and Ezekiel Bassey scored on their debuts for the Promise Keepers, while Ubong Friday also scored to complete the rout for Kennedy Boboye’s side.
In Katsina, Abdu Maikaba’s Rangers edged Katsina United 2-1 courtesy goals from Chidiebere Nwobodo and Ossy Martins, while Mustapha Salisu scored for the hosts. The visitors’ Ghanaian goalkeeper Seidu Mutawakilu was sent off late on for time-wasting.
Martins’ former side Lobi Stars were held at home by Rivers United in Makurdi. Ishaq Kayode’s opener for the visitors was canceled out by Barnabas Imenger early second-half goal as the Pride of Rivers earned their first-ever point in Makurdi.
In Ilorin, Niger Tornadoes returned to the top-flight with a 1-0 win over Fidelis Ilechukwu’s Plateau United at the Kwara State Complex. Kabiru Adeniji’s early goal was the difference in the keenly contested game.
Last season’s high flyers Kwara United opened their account with a comfortable 3-0 drubbing of Dakkada in Ilorin. Steven Jude scored twice with former goal king Junior Lokosa getting a debut goal for Abdullahi Biffo’s side in the win.
It was a six-goal thriller at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri when Heartland entertained Nasarawa United on Sunday. The visitors scored twice in the first half through Ajibola Otegbeye, while Ikenne Stephen scored from the spot for the Naze Millionaires before the half ended. After the break, two goals from Chukwudi Nwaodu and Chinedu Ohanachom turned the game on its head in favour of the home side, however, Abubakar Abdullahi headed home in the 78th minute to ensure the game ended in a stalemate.
In the day’s other game, Shooting Stars held Gombe United to a goalless draw in Gombe. Edith Agoye side’s goalkeeper Dede Dare, who was later subbed off due to injury, made some incredible saves in the first half to prevent his side from beginning their NPFL return on a losing note despite having Henry Ndedi sent off late on.
Meanwhile, on Friday, goals from Akanni Qudus and Andy Okpe handed Gbenga Ogunbote’s Remo Stars a 2-0 win at MFM as they returned to the NPFL in style.
However, the match day’s last fixture between Sunshine Stars and Wikki Tourists did not hold in Ijebu Ode.
Gombe Utd 0-0 3SC
Akwa Utd 3-0 Kano Pillars
Lobi Stars 1-1 Rivers Utd
Katsina Utd 1-2 Rangers
Enyimba 2-1 Abia Warriors
Kwara Utd 3-0 Dakkada
Heartland 3-3 Nasarawa Utd
Niger Tornadoes 1-0 Plateau United
MFM 0-2 Remo Stars