Match week 5 of the NPFL saw the return of goals and some top names on the scoresheet. A total of 23 goals were scored across 9 centres with the top two from last season getting the week off after Enyimba’s AFL exertion. Here’s the review of the biggest talking points from the week.
New Look Rangers Win Big To Go Top
After earning an impressive draw in Ilorin, it was only right that Enugu Rangers consolidated on it with a win at home in their next game, and that was what they did! The Flying Antelopes are in a good place right now and that was reflected in how they dispersed Kano Pillars. An early goal by Mohammed Yakubu tilted the direction of the game briefly but parity was restored from the spot in the first half before a second-half onslaught helped them to a 4-1 win.
The 3-goal gap was the biggest win margin by any team so far this season and four goals scored took their tally for the season, making them the highest-scoring team. They are top of the table going into a big game against Lobi Stars in midweek. A win or draw will surely signal their intent this season.
What Would Bayelsa United Do Without Mizo?
Robert Mizo was the hero for Bayelsa United again as they got back to winning ways after three consecutive losses. Mizo struck twice in between a Samuel Ayanrinde goal to secure maximum points at the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenegoa. The goals were his firsts since his hat trick on the opening week, ending his mini-drought which lasted two games.
The brace took his tally for the season to 5, which is 62.5% of the goals scored by Bayelsa. He currently tops the chart for goalscorers this season and has been tipped by many to win the Golden Boot. Last season, he was also his team’s top scorer with 9 goals in the regular season.
While having a forward that delivers is good, the Prosperity Boys tend to put too much of their goalscoring burden on the 23-year-old. They will Hope that he can stay injury-free and firing this season, cause his goals might just be the reason they stay up.
Odigie Points Finger Of Blame At Bosses
It may seem as though the lack of goals in the Bendel Insurance squad is beginning to worry Monday Odigie. Last season’s playoff finalists have managed only three goals in their first four games this season and currently sit 9th on the log.
Also, none of their forward players have registered a goal this season. Defenders Evans Ogbonda and Benjamin Tanimu, along with an own goal by Ghali Falke make up the goals for the Benin Arsenal so far. Speaking on his team’s struggle in front of goal after they fired blank against Akwa United, Odigie pushed the blame to the club management.
“The league finished and we had to start playing on the continent, there was no time to prepare well. Insurance lost players and I think the management can tell you why they let players go without replacements. For every team going through a rebuild, you’ll see this process. The league is a long way to go and we will take it one after the other. No time to work on any player.”
Those comments were a clear indication of some rancor behind the scenes. Odigie lost his top scorer from last season, Imade Osarenkhoe at the start of this season. Imade who was the major source of goals for Insurance joined UAE side United FC in September and wasn’t replaced. He scored twice in the preliminary round of the CAF Confederations Cup this season before his departure.
Katsina And Sunshine Serve 5-goal Thriller
It was a goal-fest at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium on Sunday as Katsina United and Sunshine Stars colluded to serve a 5-goal thriller. Michael Olalusi and Bello Lukman were the star actors on the day with both men scoring braces. Michael Okoro Ibe netted the other goal as Tony Katsina United won the game 3-2.
The win got the Changi Boys back to winning ways after consecutive draws in the last two weeks while condemning Sunshine to a third defeat on the road. Members of the Sunshine backroom staff were given a 2-game ultimatum before the game and it remains to be seen what happens now after that defeat.
Sporting Ride Their Luck To Victory
Usually, Christian Nwoke is the guy who gets the plaudit for saving the day for Sporting Lagos but on Sunday, it was the absence of VAR. The ‘Tech Boys’ survived a late scare after the assistant referee raised his flag for offside following a late goal by Niger Tornadoes.
Sporting had taken a 2-goal lead but their poor second-half performance gave Tornadoes a way back. Jonathan Alukwu opened the scoring before Junior Lokosa doubled the lead for the ‘Noisy Lagosians’ before halftime. Substitute Bala Yahuza pulled one back midway into the second half to set up a grand finish. He then scored what looked like a legit goal but was chopped off after the referee consulted with his assistant
Had there been VAR, maybe that goal could have stood and maybe Tornadoes might have gotten something from the game. On second viewing, it looked like Yahuza had held his run well and got through on goal. But after he lifted the ball over an onrushing Nwoke and whisked away in celebration, the late flag went up.
Sporting Lagos got away with one today mehn. This isn't offside.
They were on the receiving end of a controversial call last week and this week, they get one in their favour this time.
— ©FELIX D'GREAT™ (@Felixdgreat1) October 29, 2023
For a league that doesn’t make use of VAR, it was weird to see the assistant follow that protocol. He could have raised his flag much earlier if he was convinced the player was off. That could have saved us the stress and controversy. Sporting on their part will feel like this was compensation for the decisions that went against them in Remo. All in all, it confirms what is usually said about the officiating in the NPFL: everyone will suffer or gain from these controversies at some point in the season.