After 25 years of existence, Akwa United rightly deserve the NPFL title

After so much action, drama and intense battles, the Nigerian Professional Football League is just one match day away from completion and has a new champion in Akwa United.

After 25 years of existence, Akwa United rightly deserve the NPFL title. [channelstv]

The Promise Keepers sealed the deal with an emphatic 5-2 win over MFM FC in Uyo on Sunday, with Akwa Ibom governor Udom Emmanuel in attendance in what is going to be a very long party in the city.

All United needed was a point, but they went all guns blazing with Charles Atshimene netting a hat-trick to extend his tally this season to 18 goals, added by an own goal from Alimi Adebayo and a strike from NPFL's all time scorer, Mfon Udoh.

It is no surprise the Akwa Ibom state outfit are in the position they find themselves. They have been the most consistent side in the NPFL this season with just four losses recorded, none coming at Home. Four defeats will be the most by a champion, with Enyimba's six in 2015 the previous record.

United have also racked in the most points on the road (20) alongside Enyimba. Not forgetting they have the most solid defence in the top-flight with just 22 goals conceded and also the best attack with 52 goals scored.

The most intriguing stat is United going on an eight-game unbeaten run in the league, stretching back to Matchday 29 when they lost 1-0 at Katsina United. This is something hardly seen in the NPFL.

The Promise Keepers have shown title credentials in recent years and are a side brimming with talent and quality.

Since 2017 when Akwa won the Federation Cup, the first trophy in their history having been established in 1996, it's been growing stronger and better for the Uyo outfit.

They finished fourth in 2017, followed by second place in the abruptly ended campaign of 2018, two points behind Lobi Stars. Perhaps if the season had ended as planned, they could have leapfrogged the Makurdi team.

During the 2019 abridged format of the league, Akwa United were the most in-form team in the country, rightly topping their group, but failed to bring that same spark into the playoffs which was ultimately won by Enyimba.

2020 saw the NPFL with no winner again, with the league ending after 25 match days because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Akwa sat in sixth place last year, but this time they were not to be denied.

Their well-balanced and attractive football under the management of Kennedy Boboye - a league winner with Plateau United, has now paid dividends.

Next for Akwa United is their maiden participation in the Caf Champions League. The farthest a Nigerian team has gone in the African elite club competition in recent times is the semi-finals by Sunshine Stars in 2012, losing 4-3 on aggregate to the competition's most successful team and current champion, Al-Ahly.

Defending the NPFL crown will also be high on the agenda next season as well. Until then, the celebrations will continue for Nigeria's newest champion.

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Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.

Follow him on Twitter: @kfayiga

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