The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is set to produce new champions when the 2016/17 season comes to a conclusion this Saturday.
The contenders for the title this season has been trimmed down to just two clubs, table-toppers Plateau United and MFM FC. Neither club have ever won the top division trophy in Nigeria. Whoever win on Saturday joins an exclusive list and become the 19th winners of the championship.
Last season the two clubs battled in the survival race to keep their places in the Nigeria top-flight but have now emerged from the shadows to become the only contenders this term, leaving the more illustrious sides like Enyimba, Enugu Rangers, Rivers United and Kano Pillars in their wake.
But it is Plateau United that most followers of the NPFL have tipped to go all the way to win the title considering they play their last league match of the season at their Rwang Pam Stadium home in Jos against outgoing champions Rangers, who have only just secured their spot in the division ahead of next season following a forgetful title defence.
Plateau United coach Kennedy Boboye, now one game away from winning the title for the first time, is cautious in celebrating before a ball is kicked on Saturday.
“Nothing has been won yet,” he told supersport.com this week. “We are hopeful because we are in good position to win the league this season, but at the same time we remain very focused as there is still one game to play.”
MFM make the long trip from Lagos to the northeast of the country to face El-Kanemi Warriors in Maiduguri. El-Kanemi have not lost in their last 31 matches at home since April last year.
Fidelis Ilechukwu, MFM’s coach, knows his team are faced with a huge test but he remains bullish about their chances of becoming the first team to win in the northeast since April of 2016 despite the absence of his leading scorer Stephen Odey who is close to finalising a move to Swiss club FC Zurich.
MFM, on 62 points, will need an outright win to pull off a first league title as they have an inferior goals difference compared to Plateau United with a point better and a massive goals difference (of +22).
Two-time African champions Enyimba are in the race for third place with Akwa United right behind them. Enyimba face Katsina United in Calabar while Akwa United host Kano Pillars, who have had an underwhelming season.
A win for Enyimba will secure third place and a ticket to play in the Caf Confederation Cup next year.
The intriguing part of the final day in the NPFL is the battle for survival. Gombe United and Remo Stars are already relegated while 3SC, Abia Warriors, ABS, Wikki Tourists, Niger Tornadoes and Sunshine Stars are not out of the woods yet.