After an almost unending feud regarding the staging of the Nigeria National League Super 8, the tournament to pick the four teams that will join the 20 teams in the elite division ahead of the 2018-19 season has commenced on Sunday in Aba.
In the first game of the tournament, favourites Gombe United were unable to live up to the expectations of their pre-tournament hype after they were held to a 1-1 draw by spirited Kogi United at the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba on Sunday morning.
The Desert Scorpions actually started on a good note when they scored the first goal of the game and the tournament also through Joseph Onoja in the second minute after a mix up from the defence of the Lokoja based team but Ibrahim Enesi popped up to even the scores in the second half to ensure that the game ended 1-1.
All the eight teams: Kada City, Real Stars, Gombe United, Kogi United, Shooting Stars, Bendel Insurance, Delta Force and Remo Stars all arrived on or before Saturday after a late minute change of hearts and hostilities started on Sunday after the organizers agreed that the tournament be moved by one day to allow all the participating teams opportunity to recover from their exhaustive trips to Aba.
The highlights of the first day of action are key local derbies with Bendel Insurance squaring up against Delta Force while Kada City and Real Stars- two teams from Kaduna State are also billed to tango in a fierce battle for supremacy. The first day of action will be rounded off with the battle of the South West when Remo Stars and Shooting Stars face-off in their first game. Gombe United and Kogi United played an entertaining 1-1 draw in the first game in an early kickoff.
On Monday, Real Stars and Gombe United are billed to start the day’s account by 8 am while Delta Force vs Shooting Stars; Kogi United vs Kada City; Bendel Insurance vs Remo Stars are the other three fixtures slated for 2 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm respectively.
On the final day of the group matches on Wednesday after Tuesday has been observed as a rest day, Kogi United will strive to salvage what is remaining when they file out against Real Stars; Gombe United will confront Kada City; Shooting Stars and Bendel Insurance will rekindle their rivalry in the regular season in the Southern Conference while Delta Force and Remo Stars are slated to play the final group tie.
The tournament comes to an end on Thursday with the winners in each group squaring up to determine the NNL Super 8 champions.
Only three clubs: Delta Force, Gombe United and Real Stars reported last December when the tournament was initially scheduled to take place after the remaining five clubs insisted that the decision reached at the last congress of the NNL that all the eight teams be promoted be upheld but sanity has prevailed and all the teams have agreed for the tournament to go ahead.
With the tournament billed to stay on until Thursday it will be difficult for the Nigeria Professional Football League season to kick off on Sunday next weekend even though there has not been any official communication from the League Management Company concerning it because going ahead will mean the teams that took part in the Super 8 playing about four or five matches within seven days.