By Alexander Johnson Adejoh
Enyimba emerged as the champions of the NPFL23 Super Six and by extension, the 2022-23 NPFL season after holding Rivers United to a 1-1 draw at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos.
After recording wins on Day Four of the mini-tournament, both Enyimba and Rivers United arrived the final match with a chance of winning the title. The stakes were raised further when Remo Stars defeated Bendel Insurance to seal CAF Champions League qualification, meaning the unsuccessful team were to face life in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.
The encounter began with both sides aware of the stakes and the opening exchanges were keenly contested between the sides.
Rivers United came closest to opening the scoring in the 20th minute when Super Eagles goalkeeper, Olorunleke Ojo had to be at full stretch to claw out a goal-bound header from teammate Adekunle Adeleke, preventing an own goal.
With half-time approaching, the People’s Elephant took the lead with their first shot on target. Former FC Ifeanyi Ubah, playmaker Ekene Awazie found the back of the net from inside the box after 39 minutes to hand his side a deserved lead.
Not a team to stay down for long, Rivers United drew level three minutes into the second half when striker Nyima Nwagua stabbed home from close range following a goalmouth scramble.
Enyimba held on for the draw despite the Pride of Rivers throwing the kitchen sink at them in the closing stages of the encounter, as Finidi George claimed his first title in charge of Enyimba.
The People’s Elephant won their ninth league crown, a record-extending tally in Nigerian football history. They also secured a return to the CAF Champions League and bag the #100m prize money earmarked for the champions.
Rivers United finished in third place on nine points, same as both Enyimba and Remo Stars. The Pride of Rivers will contest in the CAF Confederation Cup next season, once again.