Ahead of the start of the 2018 Nigeria Professional Football League season on Sunday January 14, Completesportsnigeria.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU looks at the top five. possible contenders for the title.
1. PLATEAU UNITED
Plateau United, against all odds, won the Nigeria Professional Football League title for the first time last season and they are surely among the top contenders to lift the title in the upcoming 2018 campaign.
The Jos club who only gained promotion back to the NPFL in 2015 after five unsuccessful attempts, have kept all their key men from last season and have also brought in some quality and experienced players.
Goalkeeper Okiemute Odah has joined the club from Lobi Stars, while they have also acquired the services of young forward, Tosin Omoyele, who scored 15 goals for Osun United in the Bet9ja Nigeria National League last season.
Former Nigeria junior international King Osanga has also linked up with the 1999 Aiteo Federation Cup champions from FC Ifeanyiubah.
Kennedy Boboye will be without Peter Eneji and Oladele Ajiboye who are away on national team duty for the opening weeks, but they have enough depth to cope with with their absence.
2. AKWA UNITED
The Promise Keepers struggled at the start of last season, but finished in a respectable fourth position and also won their second FA Cup title – now Aiteo Federation Cup. They will look to better that performance in the 2018 campaign especially with experienced gaffer Abdu Maikaba still at the club.
The Uyo club who will campaign in the CAF Confederation Cup for the second time this year, have signed 16 new players to bolster their squad ahead of what is expected to be a tough and challenging campaign.
They are no doubt stronger than last season with the arrival of Victor Mbaoma, who netted 10 times for Remo Stars last season, right-back Matthew Etim and Ajibola Otegbeye who joined from Sunshine Stars.
A third place finish last season was not enough to save the job of coach Gbenga Ogunbote and current handler of the side, Paul Aigbogun who is in his third stint at the club will look to better the Aba giants’ third place finish.
Just like their rivals, the People’s Elephants have beefed up their squad with a number of good players. Austine Oladapo, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Farouk Mohammed and Ernest Governor are among the new arrivals.
4. KANO PILLARS
A below par campaign saw the four-time Nigeria Professional Football League champions finish in a disappointing eight position last season. However, with most of their squad from last season still around, the Sai Masu Gida who won two of the three pre-season competitions they took part in, can look forward to a better outing than last term.
Unlike some of their rivals, the Pyramid City club have brought in few players which allow for easy blending.
5. RIVERS UNITED
After failing to make an impact last season, this could be the year Stanley Eguma’s men will get things right. They have a big motivation going into the season with Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike solidly behind the team and ready to dole out the cash to help actualise their ambition.
The likes of Ifeanyi Nweke, Gabriel Wassa, Femi Thomas and Nzube Anaezaemba may have left the club but Rivers United still have enough quality players in their ranks to win the title.