Could this be the year that Enyimba will win the Nigerian League title for a record seventh time? Or better still, is tomorrow going to be the day that the only Nigerian side to have won the prestigious CAF Champions League twice will ink their name in Nigerian football history by winning an unprecedented seventh domestic title?
The answer to these posers will be known tomorrow evening after the conclusion of week 37 games of the Nigeria Professional Football League, with the likelihood of a new team other than Kano Pillars, who have dominated the landscape in the last three years, being crowned champions of the 2014-2015 season.
Fittingly and rather tellingly, Enyimba will be crowned champions if they beat Warri Wolves tomorrow at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba. It has been a season of unending twists and turns, upsets, low points, high points, suspense and riveting football drama, with the probability of more twists and turns happening with just two round of matches to play for all the teams.
But nothing is guaranteed for any side yet, with the possibility of Enyimba, with 68 points, conceding the title to Warri Wolves, who have 62 points and need to win their last two matches and hope Enyimba lose their final two games. But it would amount to football suicide for Enyimba to lose two games in a roll right at the death This is surely not the right time for a side bidding to emerge Nigeria’s all-time best to give away initiative to their closest rivals on title haul, Rangers International of Enugu.
Of course, Rangers are seen as Enyimba’s eternal rivals and the sight of the latter pulling away from their eastern brothers, with a title tomorrow, will surely make their rivals go green with envy. But Enyimba have been knocking on the door of a seventh title for a long time, losing by just a point to Kano Pillars last year and catching up with the pacesetters this season, Sunshine Stars at the turn of the second stanza and never releasing their stranglehold till accomplishing their ultimate ambition.
For a side who first tasted league success in 2001 and further conquests in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2010, winning the title tomorrow will mark a watershed in their history and put them up there as the undisputed kings of Nigerian football, only trailed by Rangers, whose six titles were won in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982 and 1984
Remarkably, while Enyimba are on the cusp of history with their seventh title in sight, Rangers, who started enjoying the fruits of league dividends in the early ’70s,
are battling to break into the top ten, as their current 46 points can only take them as far as the 12th position on the table. Interestingly, the third team with the most league titles under their belt, Shooting Stars, winners in 1976, 1980, 1983, 1995 and 1998 are also nowhere near Enyimba as they presently have 52 points to stay ninth on the log.
The statistics stack up in Enyimba’s favour even more when compared with Heartland, with five titles won in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1993 and Kano Pillars, with four titles, gotten in 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Both sides are lagging behind the Aba Elephants, in the seventh and eight positions respectively and may miss out on a ticket to play in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.
Indeed, this has been season to remember for Enyimba, with Coach Kadiri Ikhana insisting that seventh title win this weekend will mark a watershed in the club’s history.
“Our only ad just reward for such a consistent performance this season is the title and I hope and pray that our aim to enter the record books in Nigeria will become a reality tomorrow. It will mark a watershed for the club and I am proud of accomplishments”, said Ikhana, who guided Enyimba to their first Champions League trophy in 2013.
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