As the NPFL reaches home stretch, with eight games to go, all the teams would look to put on their best performances to stay afloat- for some and get continental spots for the others.
At this crucial point of the season, the jostle for the top spot becomes more intense. Akwa United top the table with 56 points while Nasarawa United and Kano pillars follow closely with 52 points each. Rivers United on 51 completes the top four.
Below the top four are the historical NPFL top clubs- Enyimba, and Enugu Rangers, who would look to usurp the current top four.
The dynamics of the league at this point of the season is always beautiful to watch. But if any of these teams want to put up a late challenge, they will hope to have the full complement of their squad.
Because of the international friendly match this morning, most of the top clubs had their best players called up to the national team camp about two weeks ago.
Those players are intricate in this final part of this season, and as a result, Soccernet takes a look at the clubs that will be affected most by their absence this weekend.
Akwa United accounted for three of the first eleven put out last night by Gernot Rohr. They play away at Plateau United this weekend and will be without Olisa Ndah, Seth Mayi and Charles Atshimene.
Olisa has been the rock at the heart of the defence for Akwa United this season. With him in defence, Akwa has lost just twice in the 23 matches he has played.
Seth has been an integral part of Akwa United’s midfield. His energy in the middle of the park will be missed. The 21-year-old has played 26 games for the Akwa side this season with one goal to his name.
Upfront for Akwa United is Charles Atshimene, the goal poacher who has a record of 0.5 goals per game for his side. He has scored ten times in twenty appearances this season.
Without these players, Akwa United’s eighteen games unbeaten run was brought to a halt last week at Katsina.
Nasarawa welcome Jigawa Golden Stars. They will be missing their astute defender Franklin Tebo. He’s been an integral player in defence for the Nasarawa side this season. In his absence, Nasarawa has conceded three in two games, losing one in the process.
Enyimba will be without their wonder kid Anayo Iwuala. The winger who can also play behind the striker has shown how brilliant he can be on the ball. Anayo has three goals in 22 appearances this season and has been the live wire for the Enyimba attack.
Injured John Noble was supposed to deputise for the injured Ezenwa in the Super Eagles team. However, he couldn’t recover from a niggling injury before the match. These players would have been potential game-changers at home against Rivers United.
Rivers United will be without Eyinnaya Kazie. Eyinnaya did not feature in the match, but it would be impossible for the right-hand to return for the game against Enyimba.
Rangers are away at Kwara United, and they will be without Tope Olusesi and Anthony Shimaga. The aggressiveness of Shimaga will be missed as he is a combative midfielder. Left-back, Olusesi, who has played 17 games, will also be missing for the Enugu based side.