NPFL Free Betting Tips and Predictions Predictions & Betting tips
The Nigeria Professional Football League 2022/23, tips and predictions for each upcoming match. Full information and betting tips for your sports bets.
The 2022/23 Nigeria Professional Football League
A brief history
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is the topmost league in the Nigeria football structure and it has morphed from a number of identities over the years. Between 1972 and 1979, it was referred to as the Nigerian Football League while from 1980 to 1990, it was the Nigerian National League – First Division. From 1990 to 1993 it was regarded as the Nigerian Professional League and it was the Nigerian Premiership between 2000 and 2003. The Nigerian top league as it is currently structured, was created by the Nigerian Football Federation in 1990 as moves started to make it a fully professional league competition. However, instability, administrative challenges and legal burdens over the years forced a rethink and in 2012 the NFF formed a management committee to usher a new structure of management in the league. That is how the League Management Committee (LMC) came to be. The LMC framework has also proven to be shaky and susceptible to attacks by higher powers as well as challenges beyond its control.
Clearly, the journey through the years hasn’t been smooth for the Nigerian top league, with a lot of in-fights, financial stress, allegations of match fixing and referee bribery as well as violence. Under the weight of all these, the LMC, which was formed to run a professional, transparent and profitable league has had major failures. It hasn’t been all gloomy for the LMC though; the body can claim the rights to a number of highs experienced in the NPFL. Through the LMC, the NPFL was the first league in Africa to adopt the Domestic Transfer Matching System (DTMS) in 2016, that coming after having brought in sponsorships worth US$34m in TV broadcast rights with SuperSport, and getting the federal government support in stadia upgrade and fan engagement. With time, and not favored by the dip in value of the Naira, the LMC lost their
Contract with SuperSport, who cited mismanagement of funds and lack of accountability. Two years into a five-year deal with SuperSport, the LMC was left with egg in the face, having failed to visibly develop the league to levels attractive to the fans and commercial brands. With the failings seen in the recent years, the LMC came under sharp criticism, especially with the failure to deal with hooliganism and allegations of match fixing. In October 2022, the NFF president Ibrahim Gusau reportedly under the influence of the federal government, had to intervene, and replace the Alhaji Shehu Dikko-led LMC with the Interim Management Committee (IMC) to manage the NPFL for the short term. The IMC is led by Gbenga Elegbeleye, who once headed the National Sports Commission, which has since gone under.
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Format of the NPFL
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will this season be played in an abridged format, after the agreement was reached in a meeting between the IMC and club owners. The reason for this is to try and kill two birds with one stone. The league management wants to change the league calendar to match with most top European leagues while at the same time try and operate within the squeezed time frames they have after failing to kick off at the stipulated time. In the new order, the league will start in January 2023 with two groups of 10 clubs. The top three in each group go into the Championship Group.
Rivers United will go into this new season as the defending champions, having won their first ever NPFL title in the season that concluded in July. Rivers United finished the season with 77 points, establishing a respectable 10-point gap, having lost just seven of their 38 matches in the season, and they were also the best defensive and attacking side. At the end of the 2021/22 season, Katsina United, Heartland, Kano Pillars and MFM lost their NPFL places after finishing in the bottom four slots.
The NPFL is fed by the second tier Nigeria National League (NNL) and for the 2022/23 season, the four newly promoted teams will be Bayelsa United, Bendel Insurance, Doma and El Kanemi Warriors.
Statistics up to March International Break
Bendel lead Group A with a five point lead over Remo Stars. They are the only side in the group yet to lose a game. Bottom of the group are El Kanemi with just one win and five points from 11 games. Plateau United are the top scorers with 21 goals, while Al Kanemi have only hit the back of the net five times. Bendel, Plateau United, Remo Stars, Enyimba and Shooting are still undefeated at home. Plateau have the most goals with 13 and Remo Stars have conceded just once on home soil. Every side has won at least once at home. Kwara are the lowest home scorers with four points.
On the road, Bandel are the only side yet to lose and with Gombe have the best defensive record with only three goals conceded. It's not all good news for Gombe though as they are yet to score an away goal in five matches. El Kanemi share that stat but have conceded 12 goals and are yet to earn an away point. Nasarwa and Shooting are also to win on the road. Akwa have drawn four of their six away matches.
In Group B, it's Rivers United who are top but only on goal difference from Lobi Stars. It's tight with the top two only a point clear of Abia Warriors and Niger Tornadoes, though those two sides have played a game more. Down at the bottom of the group, Dakkada FC prop up the table with eight points. Every side in this group has either won or lost a game.
The top scorers at the international break were Rivers United and Abia Warriors on 14 but the former have played a game less. Enugu Rangers and Wikki Tourist are the joint lowest scorers with only seven goals. Baylesa United have drawn most games with six of their 11 fixtures ending level. Lobi Stars have only drawn one group match.
Six of the ten teams in this group are yet to lose a home game. Lobi Stars have the best home record with all five of their games being won with just one goal conceded. Dakkada have the worst home record with only seven points behind Baylesa United on goal difference. However, Baylesa have drawn four of their five home games and are yet to be beaten.
On the road, no sides have an unbeaten record. Only Abia Warriors, Rivers United, Niger Tornadoes and Lobi Stars have won an away match. Abia are the top away scorers with seven goals in five games. Doma United, Enugu Rangers and Dakkada have all only scored two away goals.
If betting on under 2.5 goals being scored in this league, go for Sunshine Stars and Doma United have seen that stat come up in ten of their 11 games. It's nine for Enugu Rangers and Niger Tornadoes. Both those two teams have had under 2.5 goals in each of their six home games. Every one of the six away games played by Doma United has seen under 2.5 goals scored.
The important dates for the 2022/23 season
January 8, 2023 - The season began on this date with Bendel beating Akwa 2-0.
NPFL’s most successful teams
Aba based Enyimba have gone through a lot of woes in recent years but they remain the club with the most Nigerian top flight titles. They haven’t won any post-covid but they are still holding on to that title, with eight titles won after dominating in the early 2000s and after 2010. Enyimba’s first league title came in 2001 and they backed it up with two more in the successive years before being deposed by Kano Pillars, the only team to have really challenged Enyimba’s dominance in the past decade. Enyimba won five of their eight titles between 2001 and 2007 but would have to go through a three-year title drought thereafter even as they conquered African football. The Nigerian giants would then win three titles between 2010 and 2019 in a very competitive period for Nigerian football. In the last decade, Enyimba’s superiority in the NPFL has come under a serious threat from Kano Pillars, Rangers International from Enugu, Akwa United from Uyo, Jos based Plateau United and most recently, Rivers United from Port Harcourt. Rangers International comes second on the number of league titles won, having bagged seven, then Shooting Stars from Ibadan and Heartland FC from Owerri follow with five each. Kano Pillars have four titles then Bendel Insurance from Benin City and Julius Berger (Lagos), having won two, complete the list of teams that have won more than one title
Rivers United FC from Port Harcourt are the reigning NPFL champions. They won their first ever league title in July after finishing 10 points ahead of their closest challengers, Plateau United.
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Betting on NPFL matches
Football at all levels is deeply ingrained in the Nigerian sports culture. It is the most popular sport and this can be judged by the number of Nigerian imports out there, most who come from this league. The NPFL is a very popular league in Nigeria and enjoys a massive following, especially with the teams mostly aligning themselves with the particular states they come from, and enjoying state support. It thus follows that the fanbase offers a massive market for betting. It is thus key that after sharing the most important background information about this league, we need to crunch the statistics in the league. The first step is always knowing the teams in the league, which leads us to know how the league table would shape, thus the type of bets to stake, and where to stake. The transfer window in the Nigerian leagues is still on and clubs are beefing up their squads, based on the profiles of these players, we can have a hint on how to bet in the NPFL. The form of these players and knowing whether they are available, suspended or injured will be key in informing how to bet on the NPFL. These are areas that our betting experts invest time in analyzing, to help guide on the best bets and winning stakes. In Nigeria, it is quite rare to see high scoring games, if we take the past few seasons as a sample for this. Last season, for example, a total of 108 matches produced 1-0 as the full time score, representing the biggest percentage of the 380 matches played across the league.
Also most of the points won by the teams taking part in the league, were at home. A massive 55 points off the 77 registered by Rivers United in their title winning run were gained at home, and the same applies to the bottom placed team at the end of that season – MFM. Out of the 36 points they got in the season, 30 were won at home. It thus says when betting, the home team comes with a big advantage. This stat also reflects on the number of goals scored, which has a direct impact on the number of wins managed. Champions Rivers United for example, scored just 17 away goals and actually conceded more (19) in their away matches, posting a -2 goal difference on this front. In the league last season, home wins added up to 71%, draws to 21% and away wins were just 8%. Generally, in the past season, from the 380 matches played, a total of 779 goals were scored, a representation of 2.05 goals per game thus under 2.5 goals must have been a popular bet for the season. Over 1.5 goals represented 58% of goals in matches, with 37% the number of over 2.5 goals while over 3.5 goals were only seen in 12% of matches.
In the NPFL, just like most leagues in the world, there are key rivalries; matches in which the bragging rights mean a lot. One of the most important matches in the league pits Shooting Stars Sports Club which hails from Ibadan, against Rangers International from Enugu. Shooting Stars haven’t had the best of times in recent seasons and last season they barely avoided relegation on goal difference, while Rangers finished high, in fifth place. Still, the banter between fans of these two sides is always an entertainment, more like a match before the match and it goes on and on after the match. Notably, even at their low point, Shooting Stars have managed to pull their weight against Rangers; they haven’t lost in the last six meetings between these two, while they have won twice themselves. As Shooting Stars battled to avoid relegation, they picked up points in a 1-1 draw and 2-2 draw with Rangers International. This match will always be popular on the betting trends and is definitely one to watch out for. The ‘Oriental Derby’ is also a common reference in the NPFL, denoting teams that come from the South-East, which include Enyimba, Rangers and Abia Warriors. These represent some of the biggest games to watch out for in the fixtures.
In terms of teams strengthening for the coming season, which has an impact on how you bet on their matches, Enyimba will stake the claim for some of the most promising signings. They have added to their ranks among others, Chibuike Nwaiwu, who is eyed as a replacement for Ghanaian Farouk Mohamed who has changed employers and landed at champions Rivers United. The two time African champions have also brought on board Nonso Nzediegwu, Murphy Ndukwu and Chijioke Mbaoma. Rangers International, one of the top contenders for the league title this season have also been busy in the transfer market and come into the new season having signed 13 players, in response to losing a number of key players, including captain Olusesi Tope. How fast these new players gel in will be key on Rangers achieving their season’s targets, but also on how bets can be placed on matches involving the team.
Another interesting avenue to bet on in the Nigerian top flight is on who will be the champions. This has been a tough bet to place in the recent years, given three of the winning teams in the last four seasons have been first time winners of the title. Only Enyimba have won the title more than once in the last nine seasons. The same applies to betting on who are the most probable players to finish as top scorers. In the last decade, only Mfon Udoh has managed to finish as top scorer twice, and this was for two different teams, first at Enyimba in 2014 (with 23 goals) then in 2019 while at Akwa United (10 goals). Still, these two avenues are interesting ones to bet on, as the unpredictability means the markets come with high odds and thus an assurance to win a lot.
Top players to bet on
Rivers United have managed to hold on to their top forward Chijioke Akuneto, the man who scored the most goals in the NPFL last season and he is fired up now that he is already attracting interest from the national team selector. He has already scored for the national team and it will be interesting to see how this forward reacts after a successful season. With his confidence elevated he can be a good one to bet on for the coming season.
Remo Stars, who finished third last season will be gunning for a higher finish this time and this has been well reflected in their transfer activity; they have brought on board the experienced Franck Kwame who spent a considerable amount of time in Europe, playing in Belgium and Turkey and the Niger international can be a good one to bet on for the top scorer’s accolade.
Abia Warriors have also made a major signing, going for experience as they confirmed the tried and tested goalkeeper Thomas Femi. The player was a member of the Nigerian team that played at the CHAN tournament in 2016 in Rwanda, and joins from Heartland, who are going down. The goalkeeper, 33, has been around for some time and is among the players expected to light up the league this season.
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