Newcomers Doma United Football Club and 2020/2021 champions Akwa United on Sunday failed to qualify for the Super Six competition of the 2022/2023 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Both sides had shown a lot of promise during the season and the run-in to the competition’s final days, but on the regular season’s final day they failed to make it.
Akwa United, in spite of losing their opening game of the season 0-2 at home to Bendel Insurance, have strongly fought back to be among the Group A top contenders.
They were among the top three for long, until very late when Remo Stars resurged to return to the top three after the restoration of their earlier deducted three points.
It however became a tall order for the Uyo-based side, needing not only to win at away on Match Day 18 but to have other results involving Remo Stars and Enyimba International go their way.
They needed Remo Stars to lose at home in Ikenne to Kwara United of Ilorin while Enyimba International of Aba needed to lose to Shooting Stars in Ibadan.
But on Sunday when they won 1-0 against hosts Gombe United, Remo Stars were having fun thumping Kwara United while Enyimba were picking a goalless draw in Ibadan.
They then ended fourth, one point behind Remo Stars in second place and same points but +3 goals difference behind Enyimba International in third place.
As for the Gombe-based Doma Stars, they could have been the star side of the season, judging from their rise from the lower ranks in just a few years.
But in spite of moving into the top three in Group B a few match days ago, they failed to sustain the momentum not only on account of their performance but other results.
They dropped down to fifth finally after losing 0-2 to hosts Abia Warriors in Umuahia, with their conquerors moving into fourth place.
Sunshine Stars were however the beneficiaries of Doma United’s slump, climbing up into third place after a 3-0 whipping of Dakkada FC in Akure.
On the other side of the group’s table, Wikki Tourists of Bauchi were 2-0 winners over hosts Lobi Stars of Makurdi in Jos, hoping to escape relegation with that.
But hosts Bayelsa United did what they needed to do in Yenagoa by beating Niger Tornadoes of Minna 2-0 to hold on to seventh spot and escape relegation.
Withthe match day 18 results, Bendel Insurance of Benin, Remo Stars and Enyimba International have all qualified for the Super Six from Group A of the 2022/2023 NPFL.
Rivers United, the title-holders, alongside Lobi Stars and Sunshine Stars, also qualified from Group B.
Nasarawa United of Lafia and El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri dropped into the 2023/2024 Nigeria National League (NNL) from Group A.
Wikki Tourists and Dakkada FC of Uyo from Group B are joining them in the group of relegated sides from the NPFL.
The Super Six is the playoffs or the finals for the season’s competition.
It came about following the decision to have an abridged season of two groups of 10 clubs each, with each group’s top three advancing to the Super Six.
The Super Six will provide the season’s top three club sides, with the top two earning the country’s two tickets to the 2023/2024 CAF Champions League.
The third-placed side will win one of the country’s two tickets to the 2023/2024 CAF a confederation Cup.
ALL THE MATCH DAY 18 RESULTS
Nasarawa United 1-1 Bendel Insurance
Lobi Stars 0-2 Wikki Tourists
Bayelsa United 2-0 Niger Tornadoes
Gombe United 0-1 Akwa United
Remo Stars 4-0 Kwara United
Shooting Stars 0-0 Enyimba International FC
Sunshine Stars 3-0 Dakkada FC
El Kanemi Warriors 2-2 Plateau United
Abia Warriors 2-0 Doma United
Rangers International 1-1 Rivers United