The long-awaited 2023/2024 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) kicked off across seven centers on Saturday with 21 goals scored in total on Match Day 1 of the season.
The seven games played produced six home wins and a draw with a total of 21 goals recorded in what was a frenetic start to the season.
Among the 14 teams in action on Saturday, only three, Sunshine Stars, Abia Warriors, and Katsina United, recorded a clean sheet, as it were goals galore in the other games.
Bayelsa United scored the most goals after coming from behind to defeat Akwa United in an eight-goal thriller with forward Robert Mizo scoring the first hat-trick of the season.
The home side who failed to win any derby last season, proved critics wrong to defeat Akwa United 5-3 in a comeback fashion.
In Ibadan, Shooting Stars kickstarted their campaign on a winning note as they defeated former champions, Plateau United 2-1. 3SC’s Ayodeji Bamidele capitalized on a defensive error and poor communication within the visitors’ defence, managing to find the back of the net for the hosts.
At the restart of the second half, both teams showcased determination and skills to win the game but the host doubled the lead in the 76th minute. However, two minutes later, Uche Onwuansanya made it 2-1 as the visitors left Ibadan without a point.
In Akure, Kano Pillars made a losing return to the league after losing by a lone goal to Sunshine Stars. Oge Emmanuel, whose goal is the first to be scored in the new season was enough to give his side the maximum points against one of Nigeria’s biggest team.
In another game in Owerri, Heartland FC and Lobi Stars played a 2-2 draw game. Waheed Adebayo and Francis Odinaka had shocked Heartland with 2 goals in 38 minutes but late goals from second-half substitutes Patrick Nwogbaga and Ezekiel Bassey save the hosts from an embarrassing loss on opening day.
Also, Kwara United began the season with a 1-0 loss to Katsina United coming from a goalkeeping error by Suleiman Solihu as Lukman Bello scored the only goal in the game while Enugu Rangers defeated Doma United 2-1. Kalu Nweke andd Austin Onyemaechi had put the Rangers ahead with a 2-goal lead but the visitors reduced the deficit with a goal in the 76th minute.
At the Umuahia Township Stadium, John Peter’s 72nd-minute goal was enough for Abia Warriors to pick all maximum points against visiting Niger Tornadoes.
Meanwhile, the games between Rivers United and Remo Stars as well as Enyimba against Bendel Insurance, were postponed due to continental engagements.
Shooting Stars 2-1 Plateau Utd
Bayelsa United 5-3 Akwa Utd
Abia Warriors 1-0 Niger Tornadoes
Heartland FC 2-2 Lobi stars
Sunshine stars 1-0 Kano pillars
Enugu Rangers 2-1 Doma united
Katsina Utd 1-0 Kwara Utd