NPFL: “Controversial” penalty mars Oriental Derby as Remo Stars suffer blow in title race

NPFL: “Controversial” penalty mars Oriental Derby as Remo Stars suffer blow in title race

A “controversial” penalty deep into stoppage time marred what could have been a memorable day for the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) on Sunday.

The Oriental Derby between Rangers and Enyimba had dominated discussions all week long in the Nigerian football space despite the Super Eagles also being in action for the World Cup qualifiers.

Aside from the banter between the two teams, fans, more than ever, were also getting excited, and they were all looking forward to an epic clash at the 20,000-seater Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium fondly called the Cathedral.

Matchday pictures and videos from the Coal City were all electrifying. The stadium was filled to the rafters, with reports suggesting more crowd couldn’t even make it into the arena.

As expected, the potential title decider was keenly contested, and the first half ended in a barren draw.

The second half was heading the same way, but deep into stoppage time, the referee made a brave call.

In the 98th minute, Enugu Rangers were awarded what appeared to be a correct penalty.

Godwin Obaje, having received a cross from his teammate in a goalscoring position, was pulled down by Pascal Eze.

Instead of allowing the hosts to take the penalty kick, Enyimba players staged a walkout, and fans encroached on the pitch, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many fans who have been waxing lyrical about the NPFL and its potential to attract fans to the stadium.

The NPFL is also being tipped for better viewership on the screens, with official broadcasters, StarTimes, now beaming multiple matches live.

As it stands, the game might continue on Monday with heavy fines for both teams from the NPFL.

Northern derbies

The weekend wasn’t just about the Oriental Derby. At the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano Pillars failed to defeat their northern counterpart Niger Tornadoes, as both teams settled for a draw.

After an intense barren draw between both sides in the first half, Niger Tornadoes scored first before Kano Pillars restored parity.

The Ikon Allah Boys scored first after Kano Pillars’ defender Ismailia Nasir conceded an own goal in the 46th minute, but Captain Rabiu Ali restored parity with his ninth goal of the season three minutes later.

In another Northern derby clash, Katsina United pummeled relegated Gombe United 4-0.

However, the Savannah Scorpions had nothing to fight for as they had been confirmed relegated from the league last week.

It was an easy ride for the host as in the fourth minute, Micheal Ibe opened the scoring chart before the duo of Samson Olasupo and Andrew Idoko scored late in the first half.

And in the 71st minute, Olasupo completed his brace to seal the win for Katsina United.


In Yenagoa, Sporting Lagos bottled a two-goal lead to host Bayelsa United.

After a barren draw in the first half, Sporting Lagos’ Jonathan Alukwu scored quickfire goals within five minutes. The winger broke the deadlock in the 65th minute and doubled the lead five minutes later.

However, Bassey John’s brace in the 73rd and 75th minutes abruptly cancelled the lead as the hosts restored parity.

Another draw was recorded in Umuahia, where Bendel Insurance and Abia Warriors played out a goalless draw.

Other games

In Akure, Sunshine Stars’ 2-0 win over Akwa United lifted the Owena Gunners out of the relegation zone.

Also Read: NPFL increases prize money to N150 million

With just two games left for Sunshine Stars, Kennedy Boboye’s led side are in the 11th position with 46 points, three points above the relegation zone. They still need to be at their best to avoid returning to the drop zone.

Elsewhere, Shooting Stars failed to break the jinx against Rivers United. The game ended 1-0 from Nyima Nwagua’s 51st-minute strike.

There was a five-goal thriller in Lafia where Remo Stars lost 3-2 to Lobi Stars, dashing their title hopes.

Plateau United defeated Kwara United 2-0 at the New Jos Stadium.