South-West Derby: May the True Stars Shine Today


The star match of match-day 29 in the NPFL is undoubtedly the oriental derby between Enyimba (Aba) and Rangers (Enugu), which is live on Supersport at 4pm today. Both are the most successful teams in the history of the Nigerian league, with 7 and 6 trophies respectively. Although Rangers have endured a 32-year trophy drought, this season, they are well in the hunt for the league title to equal Enyimba’s record.

Izu Joseph - 3SC
Izu Joseph (3SC)

Just below these teams in terms of trophy count is Shooting Stars (Ibadan), with 5 titles. Their South-West derby with Sunshine Stars (Akure) also comes up today and the main talking point is neither Shooting Stars’ relegation battle nor Sunshine Stars’ outside chance for the league title. Rather, it is the enmity that has been a feature of recent encounters between both teams. Football derbies are often the opposite of good neighborliness, so one would hardly expect this derby of Stars to be much different.

Recent encounters between both teams have witnessed it all – the good, the bad and the dirty. Late winners, red cards, pushing of the ball boy, volatile home crowd, heavy fines etc. and the first leg this season was no exception. Certainly, increased security and logistics efforts have been made to ensure a successful prosecution of the match.

Okiki Afolabi - Sunshine Stars
Okiki Afolabi (Sunshine Stars)


One hopes that this derby will serve less of off-field controversy and allow the true stars come out to shine. There is a lot of on-field action and stories to look forward to. While Coach Gbenga Ogunbote will look to continue the resurgence Shooting Stars have witnessed under him, the likes of Okiki Afolabi (currently second on the League goal scorers chart with 13 goals) will look to lift his side again as he scored a late winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

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