When it comes to the Nigerian Professional Football League, Nigerian football lovers react differently to it. For some, it’s the only thing they’re bothered about when it comes to football. For some others, they prefer to watch European football and relegate the NPFL.
For those who followed the 2017 NPFL season, the final games of which will be played on Saturday, 9th of September, they knew what level of excitement they had this season.
To say that the 2017 season of the Nigerian Professional Football League was awesome is an understatement. The NPFL clubs made light work of all the criticism thrown at the league by churning out really great football and producing some amazing, not-to-be-forgotten-in-a-hurry names.
There’s no good without bad as the NPFL, as good as it was, also had its own bad days. Crowd troubles, clubs being fined, owed salaries amongst other things. What’s good if there’s no bad, right?
As we look back on the 2017 season, let’s review the season and discuss some of the high points and the low points of the season.
- Continental Football Returns to Lagos
Probably the most exciting side this season in the NPFL, MFM FC played their way into continental football after making the most of their home ground advantage. The side coached by Fidelis had this coming over a long time after their exploits last season.
As of the time of writing this, they are in contention with Plateau United for the NPFL title. Whether or not they win, continental football is one thing that will be heartily celebrated by the Lagosians.
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- World Wide Recognition
Of course, the whole world knows that there’s football league in Nigeria. That’s a fact. But the NPFL got even more exposure when Sikiru Olatubosun’s wonder strike against Rangers in Matchday 10 won the CNN Goal of the Week award.
In one way or the other, the football league was portrayed in a different light to those who used to think of it in another light. That award put the NPFL in the spotlight and the league shone brightly, no thanks to that goal by the MFM player.
- Breaching the Rules
There were many incidents during the season where the laid down NPFL Framework & Rules were not followed. Clubs failed to control their players there were crowd troubles and even match officials at some point during the league were harassed.
It is understandable that the league is not up to the standard in Europe and other countries. But then again, we need to push the NPFL brand to that kind of standard that we all look up to. Of course the clubs involved in breaching the rules were sanctioned.
In a way, more can be done to maintain the sanity of the league to make even more people want to visit the stadiums across the country to see live games. More can be done and we look forward to seeing a league bereft of all these vices next season.
- The Away Game Curse
As of the time of writing this, the highest number of wins amassed by any team in the league was 2 (Plateau United, MFM FC, Abia Warriors). The league is widely known for the “home advantage” enjoyed by teams that play at home.
The expectation of not being able to get a win away from home is not good for the development of the league. The money incentive put in place by the League Management Council (LMC) was good enough to encourage the away wins.
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But, can the stadium environments be made more conducive for away wins? Are home fans ready to swallow their pride and take a defeat when it comes without resorting to fights, brawls and all-out riots?
These are the many questions hanging in the air; questions that need to be answered before the league can progress.
The 2017 NPFL season has been a blast. Whichever way it goes on the final day, we’re sure to have a new champion. Whether the new champion is Plateau United or MFM FC, the 2017 NPFL season has given fans one hell of a ride. And now, we can’t wait for the new season to resume.Tags: NPFL