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2014/15 NPFL Season Review: The Ultimate Guide


/ by Imhons Erons
The 2015 Nigeria Professional League, its 44th season in history, was contested for as usual by 20 clubsides, with Enyimba FC emerging champions with a match day to spare. It was the Aba Elephants seventh league title and her first in five years. 
With the 2016 season on us already, SoccerNet Nigeria reviews the best and worst of last term. 

The Champions

After a five year drought, the Aba Elephants became champions again, amassing an unassailable 70 points to beat Warri Wolves to second place. It was Enyimba’s seventh championship title, one more than previous record holders Enugu Rangers.
The champions were worthy winners having won the highest number of away games (5), scored the third highest number of goals (48), conceded the fewest goals (27), kept a league high 19 clean sheets, and led the league for the most weeks (17 out of 38 match days). Enyimba’s record of just 6 defeats all season is the fewest by any side in a 20-team league format in Nigeria.
The title win earned Enyimba N30 million in prize money only, the highest ever paid to a league 

The challengers

While defending champions Kano Pillars couldn’t muster enough resources to challenge Enyimba for the league crown, Warri Wolves, Sunshine Stars and Nasarawa United all gave the People’s Elephants a run for their money. Wolves were the league’s highest scoring side, smashing in a whooping 14 goals more than the eventual winners. Even Sunshine Stars netted 10 more times than Enyimba.
The Delta state club matched Enyimba stride for stride, recording the same number of wins as the Elephants albeit losing 4 more.
In fact these two challengers would have won 14/15 #GLONPFL title, if either first half or second half of matches had been used.
Warri Wolves FC would have won it if only the first half of matches in 2014/15 #GLONPFL counted. The Seasiders would have accrued 67 points.
Sunshine FC of Akure as well would have won it if only the 2nd half of matches in 2014/15 #GLONPFL counted. The Owena Waves would have won 67 points also.
Enyimba were however too strong for their rivals making them end up as mere pretenders. 

The strugglers

Four clubs were unlucky to get relegated, as all four of Sharks FC, Kwara United, Taraba FC, and Bayelsa United were dumped into the lower league.
Kwara United FC kept just 8 clean sheets from 38 matches in the 14/15 #GLONPFL season, the fewest by any side in the league.
Taraba FC won only 9 games out of 38. Bayelsa United could only manage 7. It was no surprise that both teams went down.
Sharks FC would feel more hard done though, after getting relegated on goal difference.

The super stats

  • In August, Kano Pillars' 12-year undefeated streak at home came to an end in a 2-1 loss to Nasarawa United.
  • Lobi Stars Terka Merlai was the ONLY goalkeeper that a scored goal in 2014/15 season.
  • A league record 14 teams suffered home defeats in 2014/15, beating the previous record of 13 teams set in 2008/09 season.
  • Approximately 12% (97 goals) of the total (810) goals scored in the 14/15 #GLONPFL season came from the penalty spot.
  • 15% (118 goals) of the total goals SCORED (810) during the 2014/15 #GLONPFL season came within the opening 15 minutes of the matches. 


The top games

Fans witnessed so many fantastic matches last term.
Kano Pillars vs Nasarawa United was a spectacle. Nasarawa United triumphed 2-1 away, ending Mai Su Gida’s run of 202 home #GLONPFL matches without defeat, a record that stood unbeaten for 12 years.
Another top game was Enyimba against Rangers.
For the first time since 2007, Enyimba FC won the oriental derby away at Enugu Rangers on Matchday 19. A 2014/15 GLO NPFL season record of 15000+ spectators graced EnyimbaFC's 4th away win of the season.
3SC of Ibadan also produced another wonderful performance in Owerri on Match Day 22. The Oluyole Warriors ended a 66-game run without an away win in the #GLONPFL by defeating Heartland FC 1-3.
Nasarawa United were also involved in another thriller, coming from a goal down to win 3-2 away at Sunshine FC on Matchday 29. That victory handed Sunshine Stars their first home defeat in the league since November 2008 (122 home matches). The match also saw Nasarawa United score 3+ goals in a #GLONPFL away match for the first time in the club's history.

The players

Dazzling dribbles, superb stepovers, peach-perfect passes, crunching tackles and great goals were in abundance all season thanks to the plethora of talented players on display by all the clubs.
Sunshine stars had Prince Aggreh and Tunde Adeniji causing tons of havoc. Giwa FC’s Gyang, Nasarawa’s Ubale, Enyimba’s Bassey and many others all stole the fan’s attention and affection.
Also impressive was Lobi Stars' Toni Okpotu who went on a superb scoring spree, netting in seven successive #GLONPFL matches between July 12 - Aug 23.
An amazing feat was also achieved by Kano Pillars' Rabiu Ali, who became the first player to score double-figure goals in three consecutive #GLONPFL seasons. 
But the best of them all was Wolves’ Gbolahan Salami whose 17 goals and 4 assists earned him the coveted Rashidi Yekini Highest Goalscorer Award.

The coaches

Coach Khadiri Ikhana who in 2003-04 led Enyimba to CAF Champions League triumph returned to guide the Aba Elephants to their first title in five years.
Sunshine Stars’ Kennedy Boboye was equally impressive for the Akure giants leading them in the title charge for much of the campaign.
However, it’s coach Paul Aigbogun who bested them all. The Warri Wolves gaffer led his team to 19 victories in the 2014/15 season, one more than any other Head Coach. He has since switched to Enyimba FC.

The fans

With improved security and convenience, the NPFL became attractive once again to soccer-loving fans who thronged en masse to watch league games live. Fans showed the league much love like never before as the average attendance at football venue rose to an impressive 8000, the highest recorded in 15 years.
Oldies, women, kids and entire families were a common sight in the stadium watching matches.
And for fans who couldn’t make it to the stadium, matches were broadcasted live with a record 70 matches shown on television. 
It has had a reverberating effect as fans have taken to social media to keep up with the league’s top stories.
On Twitter alone, an unbelievable 3.5 million post reach generated by over 350,000 NPFL mentions is a regular on match days.
It can only get better.
The league also recorded fewer cases of crowd violence.
Only 3 incidents of referee assaults were recorded, the lowest tally ever in Premier League history. However, none of the incidents resulted in loss of lives.

The improvements

The total number of goals scored in the league was a mind-blowing 817, the second highest in league history. Only last season’s tally of 836 beats it.
The 2014/15 season also produced the highest number of away wins in the last ten years. 31 times did visitors hammer homers in front of their darling sides.
Akwa Utd, Bayelsa Utd, Dolphins FC, Lobi Stars, and El-Kanemi Warriors were the only teams that failed to record an away win. 

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