Adams Jesse Odoba-Yacham
The 2018/2019 NPFL regular season might has come to an end as eight teams were relegated to the lower division while 6 will jostle for the three continental slots in the forthcoming NPFL playoffs.
Enugu Rangers, Lobi Stars, Enyimba qualified from group A while the trio of Akwa United, Kano Pillars, FC Ifeanyi Uba will be representing the teams in group B in the classification tournament.
The season saw the emergence of new talents that took the league by storm and top on this list is Nasarawa United’s Sunusi Ibrahim who contributed 16 goals in all (goals and assists) as his side ended the league in group B on 4th position.
Futbaloven, a football blog which specializes in Nigeria football profiles the best players in the just concluded Nigeria Professional Football League Season.
Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United) : Plateau United might have had a very poor season by their standards but Dele’s heroics especially in the last game away to Delta Force made sure that his side will play premier league football next season. Eleven clean sheets from twenty two games is a testament to how important the Nigerian international was to their survival as he closely edged out the trio of Aliko Mustapha (Niger Tornadoes), Amas Obasogie (Insurance) and Kano Pillars Ghanaian Import, Ibrahim Idris.
Austine Opara (MFM): Captain fantastic as Opara is being referred to at in Lagos was definitely the commander-in-chief for the olukoya boys. So many People didn’t give them a chance before the season started but Opara led his team to a fourth place finish in group A of the NPFL.
Ifeanyi Anaemena (Enyimba): He is known as the beast, a monster that has over the years created fears in the heart of opposing attackers while their defences. He was so solid that he became the highest scoring defender in the just concluded season with six goals there by ending the regular season as Enyimba’s leading goal scorer as they end into the CCL and CCC playoffs.
Andrew Ikefe (Kwara United): Yes his side got relegated at the end of the season but that still doesn’t deny his inclusion into the XI. Ikefe is the best ball playing defender in the league, his area command is top notch and his ball distribution is next to none, no wonder he is been worshipped in Ilorin the home base of Kwara United and I would not be surprised if he soon moves to one of the top clubs in the NPFL.
Jimoh Wasiu (Rivers United): He is like a lion on his day when attacking, he carries a rocket in his leg and can operate in a number of positions on the pitch. With four goals and 3 assists to his name Wasiu could aspire to achieve more next season with the Pride of Rivers.
Fernando Wisdom (Akwa United): He beats his markers for dead within a split second, his speed and movement both on and off the ball makes this former Akwa Starlets boy a fan favorite at the Godswill Akpabio stadium in Uyo and with his two goals this season he has what it takes to be one of the best players from Africa in the nearest future.
Isah Ndala (Nasarawa United): Isah is one of the few players that can make your team thick as he offers defensive stability for his side while his range of long passes is an asset so many midfielders will definitely be jealous of. He got two goals and created three more as he ended the regular season on a high note.
Dayo Ojo (Sunshine stars): He is a box to box midfield player who cleans up his defense before going on to finish up at the other end. Dayo is one of the most experienced players in the league and his three goals in the last game of the season against MFM made sure his side escaped the drop.
Oche Salifu Odoba (Plateau United): The second Plateau United player to make this list is no other but Oche Odoba. He is the sole reason Plateau United could boast of another season in the NPFL.
A delight to watch any day with his mesmerizing skill and his versatility during games. He hardly get it wrong when attacking and the former Remo stars and Rivers United lived to the expectation of being the team’s talisman.
Mfon Udoh (Plateau United): The goal king of the NPFL shook off the injury that almost destroyed his career as he rejuvenated himself at home town club, Akwa United. He is fast and deadly on the ball. He has over the years become the nightmare of defenders as his 10 goals with 4 assists made sure Akwa United will have a shot at continental football by qualifying for the NPFL super 6.
Sunusi Ibrahim (Nasarawa United): The list would had been incomplete without the inclusion of Sunusi Ibrahim who took the league by storm. 10 goals and 6 assists has made the young winger a toast of many teams both within and outside the country. His speed, strength, dribbling skills and scoring abilities made him the fans favorite at the Lafia City Stadium. Nasarawa United will a whole lot to do in other to keep their most prized asset heading into the 2019/2020 footballing season.
Coach: No other but Coach Gbenga Ogunbote of Enugu Rangers beats everyone to this as he made sure he rallied his wards as they went 11games unbeaten before relegated Insurance of Benin ended that run. He also led Enugu Rangers to be the first team to qualify for the playoffs with three games to spare and will hope to go a step further by returning to the continent next season via the playoffs.
Special mentions for their blistering performances over the course of the season, here are the reserves.
Goalkeeper Ibrahim Idrisu (Kano Pillars), Isiaka Olagundoye (Enugu Rangers), Usman Barau (Katsina United), Chijioke Akuneto (MFM), Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars), Tasiu Lawal (Katsina United), Pascal Seka (Enugu Rangers), Sikiru Alimi (Lobi Stars), Chijioke Alaekwe (FC Ifeanyi Uba)