Opinion piece by Idowu Bakare
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is one of the most competitive and unpredictable leagues in the world.
The top four teams from last season struggled before retaining their top-flight status in the recently concluded campaign, while teams that escaped the drop months ago defied all odds to occupy the top positions this term.
KWARA UNITED AND THE LESSONS
Four years ago, Kwara United under the tutelage of Samson Unuanel were relegated from the NPFL despite picking 14 points away from home.
That year’s winners, Kano Pillars were only able to pick seven points away. Meanwhile, the last three teams that have won the Nigerian elite division title (Enyimba, Rangers International FC and Plateau United) were teams with the best away records.
With the Harmony Warriors securing promotion to the top flight, it would be a huge blow if they fail to work on their past mistakes and go on to endure same fate from previous campaigns (they also got relegated immediately after promotion in 2015).
First and foremost, the team has to prioritise what they want next season; remaining in the league, finishing in the top 10, or qualifying for the continent?
Kudos to the management of the team led by Prince Thompson Oladimeji who has done well to give the technical crew all necessary supports needed to return the team to the elite division.
I advise them to retain the technical crew and give head coach, John Obuh a free hand to do his job; forget ethnicity in their transfer recruitment/dealings, and fans should be on their best behaviour.
On the issue of ethnicity, 2016-17 NPFL runners-up, MFM comes to the fore.
The Olukoya Boys are a church-owned team and have the mercurial Sikiru Olatunbosun lead the pack of Muslim players/staffs in their side.
The Fidelis Ilechukwu-led side, one of the teams saved on the last day of the 2015-16 NPFL season, will represent Nigeria in next season’s CAF Champions League as they were only bettered by league winners, Plateau United.
More importantly, making the Kwara State Stadium their fortress should be a no-brainer while having a depth in squad is most essential. I hope they have learnt their lessons.
Wishing Kwara United the best next season.