NPFL 2023-24: Rangers, Enyimba, Remo, Lobi – The final stretch

NPFL 2023-24: Rangers, Enyimba, Remo, Lobi – The final stretch
Credit @Rangers_Intl X

The NPFL 2023-24 season is in its final stretch with ten games to go, and the heat could not be any hotter, as four points separate league leaders, Enugu Rangers and fourth-place Remo Stars.

If it were a movie script, one would be hard-pressed to present the scenario that fans have witnessed in the NPFL 2023-24 season.

It has undoubtedly been a season of thrills and frills, with enough drama. The see-saw of action and baton change at the top has made for the most enthralling season in recent times.

It will be hard for the pundits and punters to predict, but as the NPFL 2023-24 season enters its final lap, the niggling question is, who will win the league this term?

The race is between four contenders, Enugu Rangers, Enyimba, Lobi Stars and Remo Stars, with an outside chance for Plateau United, Kano Pillars and Katsina United.

Who will win the NPFL 2023-24 season?

Is Enugu Rangers peaking at the right time?

NPFL 2023-24 Rangers 2-1 Lobi Stars
Credit @Rangers_Intl X

Like a man on a mission, Enugu Rangers started the NPFL 2023-24 season like a house on fire. The way the Flying Antelopes hit the ground running, one would think it was a sprint. 

They galloped to the top of the table but soon lost steam. What seemed like a loss of gas has turned out to be a gimmick by a marathoner, conserving energy for the crucial stage of the league.

Enugu Rangers have been in fine form since the turn of the year, losing just twice and going on the longest unbeaten run this season (Ten games, including eight wins and two draws).

The punters will have an arduous time betting against the league leaders to finish the NPFL 2023-24 season as champions. 

In their ten-game unbeaten run (which includes winning five games on the trot), they scored 13 goals and conceded three. 

The Flying Antelopes failed to score in only one game – in the 0-0 draw against Kwara United.

Despite looking good to win the title, their path is laced with thorns, as they have massive ties against Katsina United, Shooting Stars, Plateau United, Enyimba and Rivers United.

Remaining matches – Katsina United (A), Abia Warriors (H), Plateau United (H), Bayelsa United (H), Sporting Lagos (A), Enyimba (H), Shooting Stars (A), Bendel Insurance (H), Gombe United (A), Rivers United (A)

The People’s Elephant are still on cause for a back-to-back title

NPFL 2023-24 Week 28: Atule scores a brace for Enyimba in 5-0 win over Pillars
Credit @EnyimbaFC X

If there is one team that understands how to win the league, it is Enyimba.

The defending champions started the season slowly, thanks to the minor distraction of the CAF Champions League, the African Football League and their coach, Finidi George, on national assignment with the Super Eagles.

They are three points behind Enugu Rangers and have a doggedness that bellies their qualities. 

The People’s Elephant may not play the most attractive football like their Eastern neighbours, Enugu Rangers, but they have a habit of grinding out results.

Their recent 5-0 win over Kano Pillars is a testament to their capability.

Enyimba has some tight games on the road against fellow title challengers Lobi Stars and Enugu Rangers. Sporting Lagos may look easy on paper, but they are yet to lose a game at home.

They will also host two teams that can constitute a clog in their wheels when Plateau United and Rivers United come to town.

Enyimba can still pull their chestnuts out of the fire but needs Enugu Rangers to flounder at some point.

Remaining matches – Lobi Stars (A), Heartland (H), Rivers United (H), Katsina United (H), Plateau United (H), Sporting Lagos (A), Bayelsa United (H), Enugu Rangers (A), Abia Warriors (A), Sunshine Stars (A)

Lobi Stars are no pushovers

NPFL 2023-24 Lobi Stars in form
Credit @LobiStars X

From their opening game of the season, Lobi Stars served notice of their intention. The Makurdi-based side impressed the rest of the league that they meant business in the NPFL 2023-24 season.

Lobi Stars started the season with a four-game unbeaten run halted by Rivers United in Port Harcourt. They followed the loss with a three-game unbeaten run before losing to Enyimba 1-0.

They are an enterprising side and have remained consistent throughout the season. With Samuel Tiza Iorwuese and Stanley Oganbor, Lobi Stars have goal-scoring threats against any opposition.

Their path to the NPFL 2023-24 title is not easy. Lobi Stars have to contend with Enyimba in Makurdi, Shooting Stars, Kano Pillars and Remo Stars as some of their most arduous ties.

The Makurdi-based side will need consistency in their remaining ten games to finish as champions.

Remaining matches – Enyimba (H), Shooting Stars (A), Kano Pillars (A), Kwara United (H), Niger Tornadoes (A), Remo Stars (H), Doma United (A), Akwa United (H), Gombe United (A), Bendel Insurance (H)

Poor results on the road may be Remo’s undoing

NPFL 2023-24: Can Remo Stars win it?
Credit @RemoStarsSC X

Of the four teams in the top four, Remo Stars have the worst form on the road. It is not a poor scorecard by a long shot, but they must improve if they intend to finish as champions of the NPFL 2023-24 season.

Remo Stars have nine points on the road to place fifth on the away results table. They are behind Enugu Rangers (13), Enyimba (11) and Lobi Stars (10).

The home form of the Sky Blues has been imperial. They have only one home draw, with the best home record in the league.

They have the least troubling away matches of the lot, with their biggest threat being Lobi Stars and Plateau United.

Remaining matches – Akwa United (H), Doma United (A), Katsina United (H), Sunshine Stars (A), Heartland Owerri (H), Lobi Stars (A), Kano Pillars (H), Kwara United (A), Niger Tornadoes (H), Plateau United (A) Rivers United (H)

Conclusion

Enugu Rangers are in a solid position to win the league. They rounded the bend well, but is there enough in the tank to run the course?

The doggedness of Enyimba may see them through, but inconsistency has been their bane. 

Remo Stars must improve on the road, but they have the brightest chance of winning following the quality of their remaining matches.

Lobi Stars have something about them that has kept them in the race and a surprise to the rest of the pack. However, it will not be a surprise if they win. Throughout the season, they have been the most consistent.

The NPFL 2023-24 season will go to the wire.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 week ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.