Former champions, Kano Pillars FC will kickstart their 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season on Sunday, January 13 against Heartlands FC at the Sani Abacha Stadium Kano, as five other fixtures will go down in various centers across the country on Sunday.
However, defending champions, Lobi Stars of Makurdi have their opening matches against Katsina United postponed due to their CAF Champions League engagement, while Rangers International of Enugu match against Niger Tornadoes is also on hold due to the Aiteo Cup winners’ CAF Confederation Cup engagement.
Following conclusion of the Nigeria National League (NNL) play-offs in Aba, four of the eight clubs; Insurance of Benin, Remo Stars of Sagamu, Kada City of Kaduna and Gombe United gained promotion to the NPFL. Opening day matches involving the newly promoted teams would not hold as scheduled and are to be rescheduled for a later date.
Following a mini-draw supervised by the LMC Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Nduka Irabor in Aba after the play-offs, Insurance took slot 1, Remo Stars in 2 while Gombe United and Kada City were in 3 and 4 respectively. The mini-draw thus pitched Wikki Tourists against Insurance, Rivers United versus Remo Stars, Yobe Desert Stars against Gombe United and Go Round FC to play Kada City.
The Chief Operating Officer of the League Management Company (LMC), Salihu Abubakar announced the decision of the League body to shift the matches, explaining that, “the games involving the promoted clubs from the NNL are being shifted to give the clubs time to return to their respective bases and make adequate plans to play in the NPFL”.
“It’s only fair that the players be allowed time to recover from the rigours of the tournament they just participated in and they would join from Match Day 2 while a new date will be announced for the postponed fixtures,” Abubakar added.
Lobi Stars and Rangers International matches were rescheduled because both clubs are in action this weekend.
Below are the complete fixtures for Matchday 1 in both Group A and B.
Matchday 1 (Group A) January 13, 2019
Wikki Tourists vs Insurance (pp)
Rivers United vs Remo Stars (pp)
Rangers Int’l vs Niger Tornadoes (pp)
Lobi Stars vs Katsina United (pp)
Kwara United vs Sunshine Stars
Enyimba vs MFM FC
Match day 1 (Group B) January 13, 2019
Yobe Desert Stars vs Gombe United (pp)
Go Round vs Kada City (pp)
Nasarawa United vs Abia Warriors
Plateau United vs FC Ifeanyiubah
Kano Pillars vs Heartland
Akwa United vs El-Kanemi Warriors