Bendel Insurance, Remo Stars, Lobi Stars and Sunshine Stars are yet to secure victory at the ongoing 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League play-off in Lagos.
In nine matches played so far in the championship, only Rivers United and Enyimba International have one win each and are joint-leaders on the log.
This leaves the chance to become the 2023 NPFL champions opens with two games to go.
The battle for continental tickets and most importantly the 2023/23 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) title, which has an accompanying one hundred million Naira (N100 million) prize money, peaked on Wednesday with all three games, decided at the season ending play-offs in Lagos, ending in frustrating draws for all the teams.
On a day it rained cats and dogs in most parts of the country, the treble of draws started with the 2pm encounter, between Enyimba of Aba and Bendel Insurance of Benin.
The People’s Elephant opened scoring in the 23rd minute through Sadiq Abubakar and expectations were high that the record eight-time champions were on course, to inflict a first defeat on the Benin Arsenal, this season. But Insurance roared back 14 minutes later, and drew level through Devine Nwachukwu headed goal, assisted by Imade Osarenkhoe, 1-1 it ended and Monday Odigie’s side which has drawn six of their last six matches, extended their unbeaten run in the league, to 21 games.
Like the first match, the 4:30pm tie between South-West rivals, Sunshine Stars of Akure and Remo Stars of Ikenne, also ended 1-1.
It was a match Sunshine Stars had to win, but they found themselves trailing to a 12th minute goal by Samuel Anakwe; the Akure Gunners made it 1-1 in the 46th minute, through Gyang Emmanuel Lucky; but no further goal was scored, and Edit Agoye and his men, had to settle for an unwanted draw.
Like Sunshine Stars, Lobi Stars needed to beat reigning champions, Rivers United to revive their Super Six campaign. But Mohammed Baba Ganaru’s men fell short of doing the improbable, by besting Stanley Eguma’s men, who were below par all day.
Goalless it ended, points shared and Lobi Stars are still looking for their first goal at the play-offs, after three games. The intensity of all three Day-3 fixtures were obvious and palpable, as the day recorded the least number of goals, so far at the tournament, four (4).
Enyimba and Rivers United ended the day clinching on to top spot, on 5 points each. Remo Stars and Bendel Insurance are on 3 points each, from the three pulsating draws they recorded in succession; whilst Sunshine Stars and Lobi Stars who needed to win on Wednesday, could only manage draws, and remained bottom of the log, on 2 points apiece.
Thursday is the 3rd rest day, for all six teams, and action resumes on Friday with three more fixtures on the card. Rivers United will trade tackles with Bendel Insurance at 2pm and in battle if Stars at 4:30pm, Lobi Stars face Remo Stars in the Second match before Sunshine test their might with Enyimba International at 7:00pm in Match-day 4 of the competition at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos.