The pitches were soaked in fierce contests and fans cheering on their teams as the Nigeria Premier League resumed for the 2017/18 season.
From the Karkanda Stadium, Kastina to the Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium in Anambra, the theaters produced sterling displays to herald a new campaign.
In all, 18 goals were scored across ten venues, comprising five home wins, three draws as well as two away victories.
Here are the five things we learnt in the NPLF Week 1 games:
New Boys Get Baptism of Fire
The new boys got a stern welcome party to the NPLF. All four newly promoted sides – Kwara United, Go Round, Yobe Desert Stars and Heartland FC –recorded no wins.
Go Round FC, the side from Omoku in Rivers State, who travelled to Bauchi, were edged out 1-0 by Wikki Tourists; Kwara United got swept off 0-2 by Niger Tornadoes.
Heartland, one of the traditional teams who were relegated in 2015, drew blank with the Akure Gunners, Sunshine Stars at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, while FC IfeanyiUbah saw off Yobe Desert Stars 2-1.
Fierce Battle Heralds Games
10 games. 5 home wins. 3 draws. 2 away wins; all narrate the same story: the battle was stiff in Week 1 of the NPFL.
None of the 10 venues produced more than two goals per team.
18 goals were netted in 10 games with 2008 winners, Kano Pillars and Kastina United tie having the highest score.
That northern clash saw 4 goals – three of them coming from open play.
Perhaps, the sides are yet to get into the gbedu or could it be a case of misfiring boots from the strikers’?
South-West Teams Home-Sick, Struggle For Goals
Both playing away from home, Sunshine Stars of Akure and MFM FC, the only South-West teams in Nigeria’s apex league, could not register a goal.
For the Olukoya Boys, they are still missing Stephen Odey, last campaign’s top scorer, who is currently with Swiss outfit, FC Zurich.
They lost 2-0 to Ochendo Babes, Abia Warriors while the Akure Gunners drew blank.
Who know if the duo were home-sick since, missing amala and ewedu?
Big Boys on to Shuttering Start
Enyimba, Rangers, Kano Pillars and MFM FC, began their campaigns on a jittery note.
Kano Pillars, four-time Nigeria kings, conceded a last-gasp penalty, to end the season’s opener with Katsina United in a 2-2 draw.
Enyimba, the Peoples Elephant, drew 1-1 against Lobi Stars of Makurdi at the Aper Aku Stadium.
Interestingly, MFM FC of Lagos, last season’s runners-up, were bashed 2-0 by Raphael Everton’s Abia Warriors.
It’s still early to call but fans of the “big teams” would have certainly loved better outings from their sides.
Plateau United Gives Title Intent
The Peace Boys became the first defending champions to record a win in the first game of the league since 2013.
They traveled to Nasarawa and needed a late lone gone to grab all three points, showing intent to retain the crown they won last term.
Coach Kennedy Boboye did not hide the Jos-based side’s intent when he said “we have made up our minds and psyched up ourselves to believe it’s a fresh start and new title chase. We intend to fight like we have not won the trophy before.”
The next round of games come up on Wednesday!