The journey for the 2013 Nigeria Premier League crown gets keener with defending champions, Kano Pillars, Enyimba, El Kanemi Warriors and Bayelsa United in contention.
The trio have made clear their intent from the onset, and have enjoyed relative stints at the summit of the league log. With six games to go, one of the four clubs remain the ‘likeliest’ candidates for the crown.
The merry-go-round status at the top reared its head yet again after the mid-week matches with Enyimba moving up thanks to a 2-1 win over visiting Wikki Tourists in Aba. Ifeanyi Ede and Josiah Maduabuchi were on target for the ‘People’s Elephant’ whose flight to the top was aided by a 1-2 loss by Bayelsa at Nasarawa United.
Holders Kano Pillars also went down by a lone goal to lowly placed Nembe City, whilst El Kanemi suffered a similar fate against Sunshine Stars in Akure.
Enyimba, which have an outstanding game against Pillars lead the pack with 52 points, same as Bayelsa but with superior goals. El Kanemi and Pillars follow in that order with 51 points apiece.
This weekend’s matches will pitch Enyimba and Bayelsa together in a top-of-the-table clash in Yenogoa. The encounter serves the biggest test for the two clubs in the quest for the title.
Based in Aba, a city situated in the south-eastern part of Nigeria, Enyimba are arguably the most successful club in Nigerian football. Continental football kings in 2003 and 2004, the ‘Peoples’ Elephant’ have won the league a record six-times (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2010), same as Enugu Rangers and are keen on making it number seven this season to confirm their status as the finest.
A double remain on the cards for Enyimba, after wrapping up the Federation Cup, Nigeria’s version of the FA Cup at the weekend. The double dream is already being truncated by defender Bright Esieme, who was pivotal in the club’s triumph in the knockout competition.
“We have won the Federation Cup, and winning the league this season will be the icing on the cake for us and our supporters,” Esieme said.
For Bayelsa, their only league success came in 2009, the same year they reached the last four of the CAF Confederation Cup on their continental club championship bow.
Fellow contenders El Kanemi will lock horns with Gombe United whilst Pillars battles it out with Warri Wolves.