By James Agberebi:
Former Nigeria international Friday Ekpo says he is putting his money on Plateau United to be crowned Nigeria Professional Football League champions for this season, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Plateau United, who are top on the log on 63 points, will be crowned Nigerian league champions for the first time in their history if they beat last season’s champions Rangers on the final day in Jos on Saturday.
In second place are MFM on 62 points, who have a difficult away trip to El-Kanemi Warriors in Maiduguri.
Ekpo, who won the Nigerian league with Leventis United (1986, 1987) and Iwuanyanwu Nationale (1988), stated that playing at home in Jos will be to Plateau’s advantage.
“As we all know, in Nigerian football everything is possible especially when you are playing at home,” Ekpo told completesportsnigeria.com.
“But I pray one day we will have the European style whereby a team can become champions either at home or away. Having said that, come Saturday, all eyes will be in Jos where Plateau United will be crowned champions of the Nigerian league.
“I will be happy if we get a surprise from MFM but as we all know the style in Nigeria, it is win at home at all costs,” the 1992 Africa Cup fo Nations bronze medal winner said.
Ekpo commented the relegation battle which could see some big teams suffer relegation.
He said: “What really interests me about the league this season is the relegation battle involving some big teams. And at the end of the day, we may see some big teams getting relegated.”
And on his general assessment of the league this season, Ekpo said:”I will like to thank the Nigeria Football Federation and the League Management Company for putting up a very good league this year. Though there were mistakes in the course of the season like in the area of officiating and security. But I believe they will make amends in this areas come next season.
“So I will like to give them an applause for organizing a very good league. But let me plead that we start our league the same time with the European leagues. I know it is not something that can happen overnight but I beleive we will get there. I want them to start planning so that before December the league can start so that our teams that will play on the continent will not suffer. They should be prepared and represent us well so that it will not look as if champions are being bought in the Nigerian league. Once the teams on the continent have played like five games, it will put them in good shape for continental assignments.”