Akwa United begin title defence against Kano Pillars

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After the dramatic start to the 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League season on Friday in Lagos where newly-promoted Remo Stars stunned MFM FC 2-0, more football action will be taking place across the country on Sunday.

Akwa United, who won a maiden League title last season, will start their title defence at home to Kano Pillars.

Only last weekend, Akwa United and Pillars played out a thrilling 1-1 draw on the final day of the 2021 President Cup tournament in Abuja.

Pillars emerged as the overall champions in the star-studded preseason tourney.

While the triumph in Abuja is morale-boosting, a different ball game is expected in Uyo on Sunday where Akwa United will be seeking the best possible start to their league title defence.

Both Akwa United and Pillars have been active in the transfer market with a number of new arrivals at both ends to prosecute the belated 2021/22 season.

In this corresponding fixture last season, Akwa United beat Pillars 1-0 in Uyo before forcing the Pyramid Boys to a barren draw in the reverse fixture.

Derby clash

The star fixture for matchday 1 is arguably the Oriental Derby which pitches Enyimba International against city rivals, Abia Warriors.

Sunday’s tie will be the first league outing for Enyimba manager George Finidi, who has been enjoying a smooth ride with the People’s Elephant so far.

Finidi has overseen three-straight Confed Cup games victories since the start of the 2021/22 campaign and would be keen to see Enyimba maintain their dominance over their vociferous neighbours.

The Aba Landlords have won their last six games against Warriors both home and away, a trend coach Imama Amakapabo will be hoping to halt.

Other games

Elsewhere, seven-time Nigeria league champions, Rangers International FC, are hoping for an away win in their opening fixture at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium against Katsina United.

Rangers, under a new manager, Abdul Miakaba, with some very interesting acquisitions to team up with some of the retained players, will be a team to beat this new season.

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: Why Akwa United may not retain NPFL title – Godspower Anefiok

The Flying Antelopes’ Captain, Tope Olusesi, said they are in good shape going into the league opening fixture,

He said: “The team is in fine shape going into our match with Katsina United. We have trained very hard and believe we have what it takes to get a positive result from an equally good side like Katsina United.”

Other Sunday games will see newly-promoted Shooting Stars playing away to Gombe United while another newly-promoted team, Niger Tornadoes, will be at home against Plateau United.

Makurdi will be agog for the Lobi Stars and Rivers United fixture while Sunshine Stars having narrowly escaped from relegation will hope to start on the right footing against Wikki Tourist.

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