The last day of the 2013 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season was not spared of some late drama and surprises as the trio of title contenders failed to seal victory in their Matchday 38 fixtures away from home.
The ‘Sai Maitsugida’ are the first club to win back-to-back titles in a decade since Enyimba did the same in the 2001/2002 and 2002/2003 seasons, also the first from the Northern part of the country to achieve such feat.
Both Pillars and Enyimba will arguably be voted the best teams of the just concluded season, moreover, the Kano State club have eventually succeeded in claiming the N10m ($63,000) grand prize.
Lobi 2 Pillars 0
At the Emmanuel Atongo Stadium, Makurdi, Kano Pillars retained their Glo Premier League title, despite losing 2-0 to relegation-threatened Lobi Stars, thanks to Nanen Barnabas Imeger’s brace.
The champions were one-goal down in the 28th minute when Imenger scored from the penalty spot after Zango Umar fouled Super Eagles invitee Douglas Archiv.
Imenger jn. extended the hosts’ lead four minutes to the dead but was not spared of a final day yellow card for pulling his shirt while celebrating.
Enyimba 1 Sharks 0
Enyimba FC fulfilled their wishes by finishing second behind Pillars. Ifeanyi Ede converted from the penalty spot to push the six-time NPFL champions into next season’s Caf Champions League with the Confederations Cup ticket already in possession, following last month’s victory over Warri Wolves in the Federation Cup.
The ‘People’s Elephant’ ended the season on 62 points from 38 matches and now goes home with N7.5m as LMC’s Merit Award.
It will however not be a season to forget for the Aba- based outfit as they finished the season without conceding a goal at home.
Gombe 1 Bayelsa 0, Rangers 1 El-Kanemi 0
Bayelsa United and El-Kanemi Warriors failed to capitalise on Pillars’ defeat to clinch the title as both sides finished third and fourth on 61 and 60 points respectively.
Bayelsa United lost to Gombe United 1-0 at the Pantami Stadium while El-Kanemi were beaten by Enugu Rangers by the same scoreline.
Simon Timothy scored Gombe United’s goal while Meshack Chukwubuikem got Rangers goal in the second-half.
It was a sad story for teams from the southwest of Nigeria as Kwara United, ABS (both from Ilorin) and Shooting Stars were relegated to the Nigeria National League. Wikki tourists completed the list of four teams, going down to the second division after 38 rounds of matches in the top flight.
Kwara 1 Akwa 1
Sidi Lawal helped pull a goal back for the ‘Afonja Warriors’ in the 85th minute after Abasiama Michael had given the visitors a second-half lead at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja.
The Ilorin club maintained an impressive away record but was left to rue their poor results at home at the end of it all.
Akwa United needed just a point to remain in the top division and they did just that with the draw.
Dolphins 1- 1 Wikki
Warri Wolves 1- 0 ABS
Kaduna 2- 0 3SC
Nembe 2- 0 Sunshine
Nasarawa 1- 0 Heartland