NPFL 2018: Would The Ugly Be More Than Good & Bad?
The Nigeria Professional Football League is back and running after over three months of recess.
For some reasons, there are expectations that the domestic league will serve a better menu this year but whether that will be the case is yet to be seen.
In the first two Match Days, it has been a mix of the Good, Bad and Ugly.
The first talking point for many is the broadcast of matches which is now in the hands of the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA and not the usual right owners, SuperSport.
Indeed, the place of TV in sports and football especially cannot be overemphasized hence when premium is not placed on that, it leaves much to be desired.
The first NPFL match to be beamed live this season on the NTA network was the Akwa United vs Enugu Rangers cracker.
Taking place at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium otherwise known as the Nest of Champions, one would expect sparkling pictures that should endear giving the NPFL a chance in ones’ itinerary every other match day.
However, that was not the case, like a leopard who can never change its spot, the picture quality served by NTA betrayed the lush green pitch at the Nest of Champions.
The match commentaries were anything but world class and in the 21st century action replays; narrowing angles were difficult to achieve.
Through television, radio and newspapers, we have become so accustomed to the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.
We are constantly inundated with news from the top European leagues leading to many people losing interest in the local game that thrived in an era not too long ago.
With what has been seen so far even though it is still early days, the NPFL is not looking any way serious at pushing its brand further.
Away from what the screens offer, violence is already taking center stage this early into the season and its quite worrying.
On the opening weekend, the referees at the Katsina and Lafia match centers were turned to balls kicked around by irate fans that could not stand the poor start recorded by their darling teams.
According to the NRA President, Tade Azeez who expressed reservation over the ominous signs, the threats and mischievous tendencies against referees cannot stop NRA members from being fair and firm.
Tade appealed to the organisers, state FAs, clubs and spectators to assist referees with a conducive environment to operate for the good of the game.
JJC Finding Life Hard
The quartet of Heartland, Go-Round FC, Kwara United and Yobe Desert Stars failed to record a win on the opening day of the season.
Heartland were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Sunshine Stars who defeated them 3-0 the last time both teams met at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri in 2015.
Go-Round were handed a 1-0 defeat in their debut game in the Nigeria Professional Football League by Wikki Tourists.
Kwara United were humbled 2-0 by Niger Tornadoes at home with Yobe Desert Stars going down to a 2-1 defeat against FC IfeanyiUbah.
While it was better for Yobe Desert Stars and Go Round FC in their Match Day 2 games, it can again be predicted that the four teams that moved up to NPFL will not stay afloat when the season ends.
On The Pitch
To the action on the pitch proper, it has been a bit exciting with some players already showing glimpses of brilliance.
Junior Lokosa, Tosin Omoyele and Elisha Golbe are already imposing themselves as stars to watch this term, whether it is initial gra gra or not we wait to see.
Like in every other clime, the sack letters may be flying soon in the NPFL.
The duo of John Obuh and Gbenga Ogunbote, who both have lost their opening two games of the season, will have to watch their backs.
Quite honestly, clubs have gotten more creative about trying to woo the fans to the stadium, hopefully we pray their efforts will be fruitful.
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