NPFL: Title contenders & flops of the 2023-24 season

NPFL: Title contenders & flops of the 2023-24 season

The 2023-24 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) is 32 weeks old, but Rivers United have only played 28 games due to continental engagement.

With league action on break, Rangers International of Enugu sit atop of the table with 57 points, a huge improvement for a team that finished 8th in their abridged league format last season and failed to make the play-off.

Afrosport picks out the leading contenders for the ultimate glory and the underwhelming teams in Nigeria top-flight football this season.

Title contenders

Rangers International

Before the start of the 2023-24 campaign, the Flying Antelopes appointed their former team manager, Amobi Ezeaku as General Manager – an appointment that had an instant impact on the 2016 NPFL champions.

Rangers still have scores to settle with reigning champions Enyimba, highly rejuvenated Shooting Stars and Federation Cup holders Bendel Insurance, but Fidelis Ilechukwu’s men are still one of the top candidates for the league title.

Rangers who were champions in 2016 have won three games on the road this season, they won 2-1 at Heartland, 2-0 at Niger Tornadoes and recorded a 1-0 scoreline away at Doma United – a rare feat in the highly-competitive NPFL.

A return to their traditional home ground, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium which is nicknamed ‘The Cathedral’ is also a notable factor for the team’s record of 17 wins, six draws after 32 games.

Remo Stars

Remo Stars are unarguably one of the most consistent teams in the Nigerian top-flight over the last three seasons.

Two years ago, the Sky Blue Stars finished their campaign in third position and they improved to second last season under the tutelage of coach Daniel Ogunmodede.

The Ogun State-based team currently occupy the second position in the NPFL table, just a point adrift of leaders Rangers after their 2-1 win over Rivers United on May 6.

Remo Stars are on a mission to fulfil Daniel Ogunmodede’s promise who disclosed to the team at some during the campaign that anything short of winning the league is not acceptable after their third and second-place finishes in the last two seasons.

Ogunmodede’s team boasts of the presence of Sikiru Alimi who is the league’s leading top scorer with 14 goals as well as the highly influential Jide Fatokun who has been a force in the middle of the park since his signing from Kwara United and defender Ahmed Akinyele.

Shooting Stars

For a team that was at some point far from convincing, even leading to some section of the fans calling for the sack of coach Gbenga Ogunbote, Shooting Stars have drastically improved and are currently fourth on the NPFL table.

The Oluyole Warriors have won seven of their last 10 games, including impressive wins away at Kano Pillars and Doma United in Gombe.

Highly experienced goalkeeper Okiemute Odah plays a leading role in Shooting Stars’ rejuvenated form.

Odah has formed a solid defensive partnership with Otakho Alex Aghahowa while Christian Pyagbara has proven to be reliable and consistent with his goalscoring form.



Newly-appointed Super Eagles coach Finidi George has significantly made Enyimba regular title contenders.

After lifting the NPFL trophy last season, the People’s Elephants are unrelenting and are hunting to defend their title despite being hit with a two-point deduction for their controversial win against Doma United.

Chijoke Mbaoma’s return of 13 goals and the presence of Ojo Olorunleke in goal put Enyimba in contention for back-to-back league success as they are four points behind leaders, Rangers.

Flops of the 2023-24 NPFL season

Lobi Stars

The Markudi-based club made a blistering start to the 2023-24 season and topped the NPFL log for several weeks but they are currently in the fifth position with 52 points.

Earlier in the season, Lobi Stars had to switch coaches with Eugene Agagbe replacing Abubakar Bala who spent just two months at the helm.


Bendel Insurance

Bendel Insurance might be in the first half of the table but they have been underwhelming with reference to their performances in the 2022-23 campaign where they did not lose a match in the regular season and also won the Federation Cup.

The reigning Federation Cup winners are currently eighth on the log with no assurance of a respectable finish at the end of the season, let alone picking a continental spot.

Akwa United

After enjoying Federation Cup success in 2017 followed by their league triumph in 2021, Akwa United currently find themselves battling relegation in 2024.

Factors responsible for the decline in form could be the unstable leadership at the helm with Fatai Osho leaving the club in December and Umar Abdullahi was handed an interim role for over three months before Mohammed Baba Ganaru was appointed in March.

Another factor could be the switch in home ground, from starting the season Godswill Akpabio Stadium to moving to Eket Stadium, now back to Uyo, the Promise Keepers have struggled to even make home advantage count.

The final six games of the season will be crucial to determine the fate of the former champions and also Baba Ganaru’s future at the club.

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