NPFL Week 26: Tables turn, but Lobi Stars stay top

NPFL Week 26: Tables turn, but Lobi Stars stay top
Credit: @rangersint Twitter

The NPFL Week 26 results have reshaped the configuration of the league and given it a different complexion, as teams at both ends of the log continue their efforts to change their destiny.

As the race to win the NPFL continues to heat up, the battle for survival at the bottom of the log also intensified, with the results this week giving signs that the NPFL 2023/24 season could go to the wire.

The NPFL week 26 matches were quite interesting but recorded no away wins. There were eight wins, two draws and 24 goals scored in a thrilling weekend.

Of the 26 goals scored, 19 were scored by the home sides, with Bendel Insurance accounting for the most. Six teams (Abia Warriors, Sunshine Stars, Remo Stars, Heartland, Doma United and Kwara United) failed to get on the score sheet of NPFL week 26.

NPFL Week 26: Lobi Stars remain top amid top four reshuffle

Enugu Rangers team photo NPFL week 26
Credit: Enugu Rangers Facebook

The battle at the top of the table was intense this weekend. The star match of the weekend was between Enugu Rangers and league leaders Lobi Stars.

The Makurdi-based side was four points ahead of the Flying Antelopes but faced the threat of losing their position at the top should Plateau United win.

Enugu Rangers moved within one point of Lobi Stars with a 2-1 win. Godwin Obaje scored from the spot in the 37th minute to give Rangers the lead. Maduforo Kingsley doubled their advantage three minutes into the second half.

Samuel Tiza Iorwuese scored Lobi’s consolation in the 66th minute. It was his sixth goal of the season. The win stretched Enugu Rangers' unbeaten run to eight games, one shy of the record this season held by Doma United.

Enyimba jumped into the top four, leapfrogging Plateau United. They hammered Niger Tornadoes 3-1 to tie the Flying Antelopes on points.

Enyimba now have 45 points and are back firmly in the race to defend their title. Enyimba had to wait till the second half for the floodgates of goals to be open.

Unfortunately, Mbaoma Chijioke failed to score with Alade Balogun, Elijah Akanni and Uche Collins scoring the three goals.

Plateau United travelled to Katsina to face off with the Chanji Boys. The Jos City lads took the lead early in the first half via a penalty. Albert Hilary scored to take his tally for the season to 12 goals.

However, Andrew Idoko levelled matters for Katsina United in the 40th minute while Ezeh Chidera sealed the win 11 minutes from time to leave the Chaji Boys unbeaten at home this season.

The result saw Plateau United drop to fourth place while Katsina United remained in eighth place.

The biggest win of the weekend came in Benin, where the Benin Arsenal were the stars of NPFL week 26. They found their scoring mojo. They ran riot in a 4-0 win over Doma United. Junior Osaghae scored a late brace to seal the win.

The Savannah Tigers have suffered a recent drop in form and run the danger of going on relegation.

Shooting Stars continued their recent surge of form with a win in the South West derby. The Oluyole Warriors beat Remo Stars in Ibadan 2-0.  Christian Pyagbara scored a brace to dispatch the Daniel Ogunmodede-tutored lads.

Remo Stars were reduced to ten men after their top scorer Alimi Sikiru received his marching orders in the 66th minute.

With the victory, Shooting Stars finally broke the jinx of not beating Remo Stars. It marked their first win over the Ikenne side.

Kwara United sink into the bottom four as Bayelsa United climb out

Sporting Lagos NPFL week 26
Credit: Sporting Lagos X

The battle for survival at the other end of the table was as fierce as it was intense. Bayelsa United swapped places with Kwara United in the bottom four, while Akwa United, Heartland and Gombe United retained their places in the relegation spot.

Kwara United lost to Sporting Lagos at Onikan 2-0. Two goals from Paschal Durugbor and Salawudeen gave the Lagos side all three points. The Afonja Warriors now face the risk of relegation.

The loss by Kwara United helped Bayelsa United who secured a come-from-behind win over Kano Pillars to climb out of the relegation zone.

Two late goals by James Eno and Elvis Okorie cancelled out the Kano Pillars opener.

Two teams battling in the relegation zone, Gombe United and Akwa United squared off with both sides sharing the spoils. Meanwhile, Abia Warriors were held at home by Sunshine Stars in a 0-0 draw.

Rivers United, who are perilously hanging above the relegation zone pipped Heartland of Owerri by a lone goal. However, the Pride of Rivers have three outstanding matches.

NPFL Week 26 Results

Rivers United

1-0

Heartland

Abia Warriors

0-0

Sunshine Stars

Bayelsa United

2-1

Kano Pillars

Bendel Insurance

4-0

Doma United

Enugu Rangers

2-1

Lobi Stars

Enyimba

3-1

Niger Tornadoes

Gombe United

1-1

Akwa United

Katsina United

2-1

Plateau United

Sporting Lagos

2-0

Kwara United

Shooting Stars

2-0

Remo Stars

This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks 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.