The Nigerian elite division sides suffered contrasting fortunes in the race to qualify for Africa’s premier club competition
Kano Pillars’ drive for a ticket to next year’s Caf Champions League received a massive boost as they silenced Wikki Tourist 1-0 on Monday evening.
With Akwa United already confirmed as Nigerian champions – which guaranteed them one of the two tickets to the African club competition – five Nigerian clubs stay in contention for the last berth.
Having lost 1-0 to Kwara United in their last time out, Sai Masu Gida returned to winning ways with a last-gasp triumph over the Bauchi-based visitors.
The keenly contested affair at the Sani Abacha Stadium was heading for a 0-0 draw, but super-sub Auwalu Ali Malam had the final say with his goal in the closing stages at the Sani Abacha Stadium proving decisive.
Following this result, the four-time Nigerian kings climbed to third on the table having garnered 64 points from 37 games, one point behind Nasarawa United, who are second.
Should Ibrahim Musa’s men defeat Heartland in their last match of the 2020-21 campaign on August 8, they will be Nigeria’s second representatives in the Champions League provided Nasarawa United fail to win at Abia Warriors.
Elsewhere, Enyimba’s ambition of earning the ticket ahead of Pillars was dealt a major blow following their 1-1 draw at home to Sunshine Stars.
Heading into the encounter, Fatai Osho’s men had gone on a run of four games without defeat as a victory over the Owena Whales would put them in control of their own destiny.
Despite dominating ball possession before their scanty home supporters, they were unable to peg back the Akure-based visitors, who needed to avoid defeat to boost their chances of avoiding demotion to the Nationwide league.
Their persistence paid off on the hour mark as Emmanuel Ampiah put the ball beyond goalkeeper Uche Okafor.
Knowing the danger ahead, Deji Ayeni’s side bounced back from their slumber to level matters through former Nigeria international Ejike Uzoenyi in the 77th minute.
The People’s Elephants’ have now dropped to fifth after amassing 63 points with one game left. A place in the Caf Confederation Cup remains a realistic chance for the two-time African kings as they take on Dakkada FC on Sunday.
NPFL RESULTS IN FULL
Jigawa Golden Stars 3-0 Ifeanyi Ubah United
Adamawa United 0-2 Kwara United
Nasarawa United 3-0 Enugu Rangers
Rivers United 3-1 Lobi Stars
Kano Pillars 1-0 Wikki Tourist
Enyimba 1-1 Sunshine Stars