How NPFL Teams Qualify For the Super Six And CAF Competitions

How NPFL Teams Qualify For the Super Six And CAF Competitions
Credit: Iconsport

In 2022, the Federal Government of Nigeria disbanded the League Management Committee (LMC), which ran the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) for almost 10 years. This government action was carried out in September last year, a few months after the 2021/2022 NPFL season ended. As a result, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development declared LMC “Illegal.”

A new committee called the Interim Management Committee (IMC) oversaw the smooth running of the NPFL from that moment on. And, like every committee has a leader, Gbenga Elegbeleye was appointed Chairman of the new body. Paul Bassey took over as the Vice-Chairman, while Davidson Owumi was appointed the Head of Operations.

These changes delayed the commencement of the 2022/2023 NPFL season. In response to this, the 20 NPFL clubs proposed an abridged league system for time constraints. They also cited the need for a uniform football calendar with the European leagues and the rest of Africa. The proposal was brought before the new Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Ibrahim Gusau, in Abuja, and later to the Gbenga Elegbeleye-led Interim Management committee.

In the proposal, the club owners said the abridged league should be divided into two groups of 10 teams each, and the top two teams in each group should compete in a Super Four tournament to decide the NPFL champions. They insisted that interruptions to the league had caused huge debts for match officials and staff, as well as a lack of sponsorship.

The IMC, after serious internal discussions, adopted the idea of a shortened league season with the NPFL clubs. However, they made it a Super Six Championship round instead of a Super Four.

The Abridged NPFL Format

The Nigeria Professional Football League is composed of 20 teams who compete for the title. The 20 clubs are divided into two groups – A and B – with ten teams in each group for the 2022/2023 season. In this format, the top three NPFL teams, after 18 rounds of games from the two groups, proceed to the Super Six Championship Round.

The Super Six NPFL Championship Round

The Super Six, featuring the top three teams from Group A and as many from Group B, is a heavyweight showdown to decide the NPFL. Three NPFL teams have currently qualified for the Super Six – Rivers United, Lobi Stars and Bendel Insurance. Results from Matchday 18 will decide the other three teams to feature in the NPFL Super Six.

The Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan Lagos, will be the venue for the blockbuster Super Six competition, which will take place between June 3rd and 11th. The six teams will play each other, and the one with the highest point tally will emerge as the NPFL Champions for 2022/2023.

Meanwhile, the top two teams will represent Nigeria at the CAF Champions League next season, and the third-best team will feature in the CAF Confederations Cup next season.

The IMC has announced the 2022/23 NPFL season winner from the Super Six will pocket N100 million, double the amount that Rivers United got as champions last season.

What was the Previous NPFL Format?

The NPFL has been running the 38 games season format due to its 20 teams' participation. However, in 2019 when 24 teams participated, the NPFL was split in half, just like it is this 2022/2023 season.

How NPFL Teams Qualify For CAF Competitions

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions are annual tournaments organized by the body for the top division African clubs. CAF decides who wins the CAF competitions through group stage matchups followed by a double-legged knockout stage and a home and away final.

The Confederation of African Football has three club competitions – the CAF Champions League, the CAF Confederations Cup and the CAF Super Cup. The winner of the CAF Champions League usually represents Africa in the FIFA Club World Cup annually. Whereas the winner of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations Cup matchup for the CAF Super Cup.

The current champion of the CAF Champions League is Wydad AC, while that of the CAF Confederations Cup is RS Berkane, who also won the CAF Super Cup. Interestingly, both are Moroccan clubs.

Nigerian clubs have been participating in African elite club football competitions. However, Enyimba Football Club is the only Nigerian side to have won the most prestigious of the CAF club competitions, the CAF Champions League. They did it in 2003, defeating Ismaily 2-1 on aggregate in the final. Enyimba won a second CAF Champions League title the following year, defeating Etoile du Sahel 5-3 on penalties after the match ended 3-3 on aggregate, a final staged in Abuja. No Nigerian club has won the CAF Confederations Cup.

Qualification For CAF Club Competitions

The best four teams in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season qualify for CAF club competitions. This has been the case for years. The top two teams in the league will have their spots in the Champions League, while the 3rd and 4th teams feature in the CAF Confederations Cup.

In the 2021/2022 NPFL season, Rivers United and Plateau United represented Nigeria in Africa's most elite competition, the CAF Champions League. Meanwhile, Remo Stars and Kwara United flew the Nigerian flag in the CAF Confederations Cup.

While four teams qualified for the CAF competitions last year, it won't be the case for the 2023/2024 season.

Qualification From the Abridged NPFL 2022/2023 Season

Nigeria's representatives for CAF competitions next season will be the top two teams at the end of the Super Six Championship round. The overall best third-placed team on the ranking of the Super Six will represent Nigeria in the CAF Confederation Cup.

Performance of NPFL Clubs in Recent CAF Competitions

Since Enyimba last won the CAF Champions League in 2004, Nigerian clubs have performed poorly in continental club competitions. This is due to the NPFL's poor management and repeated interruptions in the calendar to match with the rest of Africa. As a result, Nigerian clubs haven't been able to compete with teams having proper leagues.

With the introduction of an abridged NPFL this season and proper sponsoring, the league may slowly return to its lost glory and help Nigerian football return to better days.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 year ago

Chandan is a passionate writer, editor, and marketer with a love for football. He has bylines in leading online publications and has worked with renowned sports brands like The Olympics, Fox Sports Asia, and the Indian Super League (ISL). As for the unimpressive part, he loves Chelsea.