Completesportsnigeria.com's ADEBOYE AMOSU presents five key lessons learnt from the opening day of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
1. CHAMPIONS ENUGU RANGERS STRUGGLED WITHOUT EGBUCHULAM
As expected, Enugu Rangers struggled without their talismanic forward, Chisom Egbuchulam in their opening game of the campaign against Abia Warriors at 'the Cathedral' Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium Enugu on Sunday.
Egbuchulam scored 16 goals last term to help the Flying Antelopes win their first league title in 32 years, and many have predicted his departure will cost the Coal City side dearly this season.
Though new signing, Fortune Omoniwari proved his worth by opening score for Rangers in the encounter, he and the other forwards failed to convert other chances created and the club ended up going down to a 2-1 defeat.
2. REMO STARS FOUND THE GOING TOO TOUGH
NPFL newcommers Remo Stars were the first club from the Nigeria National League to secure promotion to the top flight last season.
Much was expected from the team handled by former Nigeria international, Nduka Ugbade
going by their impressive pre- season form, but they were handed a tough lesson by Plateau United who defeated them 2-1 in their first ever game in the Nigeria Professional Football League.
3. SHOOTING STARS ENDED THEIR OPENING DAY HOODOO
The Oluyole Warlords, prior to the new new season, had failed to register a win on the opening day in the previous two campaigns. They suffered defeats against Heartland and Lobi Stars in their previous two match-day one fixtures.
Despite a nervy start to their game against Lobi Stars on Sunday at the Lekan Salami
Stadium, Ibadan 3SC were able to break the jinx courtesy of goals by Afolabi Waheed and SundayFaleye.
4. OKEY EMORDI AND KENNEDY BOBOYE PROVED THEIR CLASS
The duo of Okey Emordi and Kennedy Boboye had a torrid experience on their jobs last season. The veteran Emordi was sacked by Nigeria National League outfit, COD United after few months on the job for poor performance, while Boboye resigned from his post as Abia Warriors after finding the going too tough.
Many eyebrows were raised when the two coaches were contracted by Abia Warriors and Plateau United before the start of the campaign they proved their mettle by guiding their teams to away wins against Enugu Rangers and Remo Stars respectively.
5. FAVOURITES RIVERS UNITED STARTED ON A HIGH
Super-Four Champions, Rivers United who have been touted by pundits as the main contender for the title were in fantastic form on the opening day edging El-Kanemi Warriors 2-1 at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
They could have scored more goals but for their profligacy in front of goal.