Nigerian League Returns With Frenzy Amid Covid-19 Precautions

After nine months of interruption because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season finally got underway on 27 December.

The start of the new season was long overdue since the last domestic football season was brought to an abrupt end in March after Match Day 25, following a COVID-19 enforced ban on all football-related activities by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in conjunction with governmental authorities.

NPFL and the League Management Committee (LMC) would only confirm December 27th kick-off date after what it claimed was an 'absolute need to ensure appropriate compliance with the club's licensing regulations among other regulatory requirements" amid strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Meanwhile, there were plenty to cheer about at the NPFL restart, despite the fact only six of the ten scheduled matches took place promptly on December 27.

Though he was eventually on the losing side away to Nasarawa United at the Lafia Township Stadium, Wikki Tourists' Promise Damala scored the first goal of the season as early as the fifth minute, in an encounter where Reuben Nicodemus also made waves with the first brace of the season for a home 2-1 win.

There were equally hard-fought battles in other matches, with a narrow home wins for Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM) 1-0 over Warri Wolves 1-0 at the Agege Township Stadium in Lagos.

Jigawa Golden Stars, starring a 15-year-old Abubakar Mohammed Gidado, took off the shine away from Sunshine Stars with a 1-0 win at their adopted home ground in Kaduna, while FC Ifeanyi Ubah equally recorded a lone goal win over Lobi Stars.

Meanwhile, Plateau United who were declared winners of last abridged season, suffered a humiliating 2-0 home loss to visiting Kwara United at the New Jos Stadium.

Veteran Kano Pillars' striker Rabiu Ali, in his 11th season appearance for his side, caught the eyes by scoring the opener in the 1-1 away draw to Adamawa United at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe.

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