Just as we had a photo finish at the NWFL Premiership Super Six in Ijebu Ode some weeks ago, where the league champions and Nigeria’s representative to the WAFU B qualifiers for the CAF Women Champions League emerged, a similar situation of yet another photo finish has presented itself at the NWFL Premiership Play-Off in Benin City, as all the four teams in the competition for survival in the league must win their games in today’s final matches at the University of Benin Sports complex, Ugbowo, or be condemned to relegation.
The final games will be played simultaneously at 3pm at the Main Bowl and the practice pitch of the University of Benin, Ugbowo campus, between Pelican Stars of Calabar and Ibom Angels in a traditional clash of superiority between the Effiks and the Ibibios, on one hand, and Abia Angels of Aba versus Dreamstar Ladies of Lagos.
In the Pelican Stars versus Ibom Angels’ game, the Calabarians’ perennial former champions of the Nigeria Women’s League need just a draw against the Akwa Ibomites to survive relegation from the Premiership League. A draw would take them to unassailable five points good enough to guaranty their survival for another season. While a win against the Angels will be an added advantage, giving them seven points, while a loss may not be an option.
For Ibom Angels to swim out of relegation waters, they must as a necessity beat Pelican Stars by 2-0 and pray for Dreamstar Ladies to defeat Abia Angels by any margin. On the other if the Akwa Ibomites wants a guaranteed insurance cover to escape relegation, they must to beat the Effiks by 3-0. This will take them to four points and +2 goal difference to triumph on head-to-head permutations.
In the Abia Angels versus Dreamstar Ladies game, the Ann Agumanu Chiejine-tutored girls need just a draw to take them to five points, good enough to sustain them in the NWFL Premiership. A win will give them seven points and a survival in the elite league. While a loss by 3-0 against the Abdulrahman Abolore team would see them sinking into the relegation waters, so the must avoid a loss.
For the agitated Dreamstar Ladies following a N2.5million sanction of the club and the indefinite ban of their coach by the NWFL, they will come out to prove a point at least to save the life of the club.
Dreamstar Ladies go into today’s final game with just one point and a minus two goals-difference. For them to survive relegation for a second season running, they must defeat Abia Angels with as much as three replied goals. Two season’s ago the Lagos Girls survived a more difficult relegation battle, so they have what it takes to get a much desired lifeline when it matters most, but would Ann Agumanu-Chiejine and her Abia Girls allow Dreamstar Ladies dance the ‘Macabre’ dance in front of them with relegation waters beckoning.
The results of the two games today will determine the two teams that will survive and the two that would be consumed by relegation from the NWFL Premiership, as the season officially ends in flying colours as the Aisha Falode-led NWFL board has succeeded in raising the bar of the women football league not only in Nigeria but also in the African continent..