It was an exciting start to the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) this past weekend with 16 teams featuring.
The likes of Enyimba, Remo Stars, Bendel Insurance and Rivers United did not get to play their season opener because of the continental assignments of the last two.
Regardless, there was enough excitement and fantastic results for the fans and football lovers to savour.
Out of the numerous results that we got on match day one, Sporting Lagos’ 2-0 win over Gombe United and Bayelsa United’s 5-3 win over Akwa United stood out. In total, match day one of the new NPFL season produced 23 goals from 8 games.
With that in mind, which of Sporting Lagos or Bayelsa United impressed the most? Let’s take a look at it.
Sporting Lagos’ first-ever NPFL game
Sporting Lagos, founded in 2022, made it to the NPFL via the Nigeria National League playoffs in July and it has seen their stock rise since then.
The noisy Lagosians and their fans made it to the Mobolaji Johnson Arena to witness history on Monday and the start of something great and the players did not disappoint in the joyful atmosphere.
Former Dakkada midfielder Rivio Ayemwenre and substitute Clement Naantaum scored in either half to hand the Lagosians a win in their first-ever top-flight match.
Rivio’s goal did not come until the 42nd minute but it was worth the wait. The midfielder found himself at the end of a cross from striker Jonathan Alukwu and headed past the hapless Gombe United goalkeeper Itodo Akor to become the first Sporting Lagos player to score in the NPFL.
Meanwhile, Clement Naantaum combined with fellow substitute Junior Lokosa, who came in for Rivio and Okon moments earlier, to score the game’s second goal.
It was an assured performance that matched the occasion and the celebratory mood.
Bayelsa United triumph in Yenagoa goalfest
Bayelsa United returned to the NPFL before the start of last season and were seen as relegation candidates at the time. Although they spent a lot of time around the drop zone, the Restoration Boys managed to beat the drop thanks to some spirited performances in the second half of the season led by striker Robert Mizo.
Robert Mizo of Bayelsa United scores the first hat trick in the NPFL this season. 🔥🇳🇬 pic.twitter.com/i2ardb2MpU
— POOJA!!! (@PoojaMedia) September 30, 2023
Bayelsa United hosted Akwa United in the season opener at the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa on Saturday. Many expected Akwa United to at least secure a point because they were considered to be one of the title contenders this season, however, the home side showed great character to turn the game around.
Former Rangers striker Hadi Mohammed put Akwa United in front but the home side responded through Alex Jerry. Akwa United’s new boy Oguntayo Seyi then saw his deflected effort restore his side's lead before Robert Mizo struck on the stroke of halftime to level the scores again.
Seyi completed his brace to hand Akwa United the lead once again but Mizo scored twice to complete his hat trick – the first of the new season – and hand his side the lead for the first time in the game. Later on, Emmanuel Nneoyi then made it 5-3 to round up the game for Bayelsa United.
Verdict: Bayelsa United impressed the most
Bayelsa United laboured to claim the win in stunning fashion and Robert Mizo grabbed the season's first hattrick. In perspective, there was only one NPFL hat-trick in the whole of last season.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago