The long wait by the lovers of domestic football has finally ended as Week 1 matches of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will be taking centre-stage across the country this weekend.
Newly promoted sides, Plateau United and Niger Tornadoes will set the tone for the new season as they both will be in action on Saturday in Jos while other games in the opening-day of action comes up on Sunday across the country.
Indeed, the expectations are quite high for the 2015/16 season especially going by the considerable successes recorded last term.
Activities in the transfer window has given a glimpse of what to expect this term as teams have invested in personnel they believe will help them in meeting their set targets.
Aside the fact that the League will be starting without a title sponsor, there are a couple of other changes that will greet the 2015/16 season which many suggest will be more tightly contested compared to the past seasons.
One of such changes is the fact that Lagos, the Commercial Capital of Nigeria will for the first time in nearly a decade will be witnessing Premier League action.
Two teams; MFM FC and Ikorodu United gained promotion to the elite division last season and the duo will now avail avid football supporters in Lagos the opportunity of enjoying the best of football on the local scene.
While many expect another stiff contest this season which could translate that knowing who will emerge champions of the 2015/16 season maybe delayed till the end of 38 weeks of action, some clubs readily throw themselves up as title contenders.
Enyimba International are the defending champions and they will be starting their title defence away from home in Port Harcourt against newly christened Rivers United FC (formerly Dolphins FC). While there is no assurance that the Peoples’ Elephant will retain the crown won last term, it will be suicidal to completely rule them out of contention this new season.
The Aba Landlords with as much as 14 fresh additions, including striker Ike ThankGod, midfielder Ikechukwu Ibenegbu and former Kano Pillars goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai look well positioned for an astonishing eighth Premier League title.
Also Kano Pillars fit the bill as another title contender as the Pyramid Boys are keen to reclaim the number one position after surrendering the title to eventual winners Enyimba last season.
Though some reliable legs have left Kano Pillars, the team can still count on the few signings and available stars, including legendary striker Mohammed Gambo and midfielder Rabiu Ali to challenge for the title with their massive government sponsorship.
Another team that would pass for title contenders this season is Sunshine Stars. It is expected that the Akure Gunners would have learnt from their mistake last season which saw them leading the log for a long time and ended up not just losing the title but also failing to snatch a continental ticket last season. The hunger for silverware in Sunshine is evident in the influx of top players including former Enyimba defender Markson Ojobo and the sustained presence of stars like midfielder Paul Onobi and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa among others.
Match Day 1 Fixtures
Plateau United FC vs Niger Tornadoes FC
Giwa FC vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Nasarawa United FC vs MFM FC
Dolphins FC vs Enyimba Int’l FC
Shooting Stars FC vs Lobi Stars FC
Sunshine Stars FC vs Akwa United FC
Ikorodu United FC vs Abia Warriors FC
El-Kanemi Warriors FC vs Wikki Tourists FC
Heartland FC vs Warri Wolves FC
Kano Pillars FC vs Rangers Int’l FC