|Hattrick Boy, Alhassan Ibrahim|
By Ekine Moseph
ElKanemi Warriors continued their winning streak at home with yet another win; Enyimba grab bragging rights in the Oriental Derby handing Imama Amapakabo's Rangers International yet another defeat and high flying MFM FC were thrashed but here are 5 things we learned from NPFL match day 17.
Enyimba rule the East but what next for Imama?
Though they were playing in the Nigerian-Southern city of Calabar, Enyimba came from behind to defeat eastern neighbours, Rangers International 2-1 adding more wore to the flying Antelopes.
Trailing by a lone goal at halftime, substitute Chukwude Stephen drew the people’s elephants level ten minutes after the restart with talismanic striker and captain Mfon Udoh scoring a late winner to hand Rangers a fourth defeat in five games in the NPFL.
Enyimba might have won the three points, but much of the talk will be about the fate of Rangers boss, Imama Amapakabo.
After the team’s ouster in the CAF Champions League, the Management of Rangers lead by Christian Chukwu handed Imama and his coaching crew a three match ultimatum to save their jobs.
He’s failed to win in any of those three games, in fact to put it in context Rangers have lost 2 and drawn 1 of the three must-win games.
Yet again his team let a lead slip just like they did on match day 16 against Remo Stars having lead 1-0.
Supporters of the club unfurled a banner in support of the coach who won Rangers' first league title after a 32-year wait in that match but it remains to be seen what the Management of Rangers might do next. Could this be bye-bye Imama?
Remo Stars finding form
Check this stat out: Remo Stars have won three of their last four games in the NPFL. Surprised eh? The sky blues started the season with results reminiscent of last season’s league campaigners, Ikorodu United which led many to predict they could suffer the same fate as did Ikorodu United, but Remo Stars are beginning to find their feet in the Nigeria Professional Football League.
Up against fellow newly promoted side, Katsina United in Sagamu under the watchful eyes of Super Eagles assistant coach Salisu Yusuf, the Sky Blues left it late to put Katsina United to the sword.
Dufegha Eric scored on 89th minute to send the home fans into delirium.
They might still find themselves near the bottom of the table when the other bottom sides; Rivers United and Rangers play their outstanding games, but coach Fatai Osho will definitely be pleased with the positive run of results they’ve put together.
Nasarawa United turn on the style on MFM
Not very often do we see such a score line in the NPFL, especially against an in-form side in the league but Nasarawa United did put on a show for their paying customers with a walloping of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Football Club.
MFM FC's coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu took the bold approach of naming the deadly trio of Chukwuka Onuwa, Sikiru Olatunbosun and Stephen Odey in the starting line-up signalling his intent to go on the offensive.
Nasarawa United raced out of the blocks scoring as early as in the first minute through Adamu Hassan's header leaving the Olukoya boys rattled.
As expected, MFM held their own until the 61st when they went two goals down.
Yinka Onaolapo who assisted the first goal got his name on the score sheet.
Anthony Oussou and Abdulrahman Bashir scored the third and fourth goal in the closing stages of the game to condemn MFM FC to a 4-0 defeat for the second time this season (FC Ifeanyi Ubah also thrashed MFM 4-0 on matchday 2)
Mathias Samuel, Sunday Adetunji proving to be indispensables
Where will ElKanemi Warriors and in particular Abia Warriors be without Mathias Samuel and Sunday Adetunji?
Both players yet again showed how important they are to their sides.
Mathias Samuel's solitary strike, his ninth goal of the season proved decisive in settling a northern derby against Kano Pillars. A victory that sees the Borno Army continue their streak of consecutive wins at the Maiduguri stadium.
While Samuel was producing the goods in Maiduguri, Sunday Adetunji went one better by scoring a brace in Abia Warriors' 2-0 destruction of ABS FC at the Umuahia Township Stadium.
Having joined from Shooting Stars where he scored 10 goals in the 2015/2016 season, Adetunji is proving last season’s exploits was no fluke at all.
With just 17 match days gone, he has scored 9 goals already just 4 goals behind NPFL top scorer Stephen Odey.
If ElKanemi Warriors and Abia Warriors harbour any hopes of finishing in the top-3 positions which I think they do, they must hope their key men stay fit.
Alhassan Ibrahim dazzles for Promise Keepers
Not very often do Players joining a new club hit the ground running in the NPFL (just ask Gabriel Wassa at Rivers United) but Akwa United's Alhassan Ibrahim has taken little time to repay the faith Akwa United coach Abdu Maikaba has shown in him.
Alhassan became only the third player to score a hat-trick this season joining the illustrious company of Plateau United's Reuben Bala and MFM FC’s Stephen Odey.
For a Central midfielder, it epitomises the potential Alhassan has to be a box-to-box midfielder.
With a gangly looking physique and a good eye for goal, Alhassan Ibrahim has all the necessary ingredients to one day make it into the Super Eagles squad.