Champions Rangers were stunned at home, while newcomers, ABS FC defeated Akwa United in fashionable style. Shooting Stars and MFM also recorded wins.
Having won their first league title in 32 years, the expectations of Rangers fans were titled towards the defence of their title was high as the new season kicked off on Saturday. But Imama Amapakabo’s men would settle for less as Oriental neighbours, Abia Warriors silenced a mammoth crowd at the Nnanmdi Azikiwe Stadium.
Rangers struck first through Fortune Omoniwari ten minutes into the game, before Emeka Isaac’s deflected effort levelled terms for the visitors midway through the first half. Godwin Zaki got the winner from a penalty in the 72nd minute, after Chibuzor Madu handled the ball inside the area.
At the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, Ibrahim Mustapha’s solo effort was all Enyimba International needed to dispatch a determined Sunshine Stars of Akure. Goals from Guy Kuemian and new-signing, Emeka Ogbugh helped Rivers United to a 2-1 win at home to El-Kanemi Warriors. Bello Koformata got El-Kanemi’s consolation deep into added time.
Newly-promoted ABS FC shocked Akwa United with a 3-1 win at the Kwara Township Stadium. Mohammed Mohammed had given the home side the advantage in the 12th minute, before Godspower Igudia headed home the equalizer for the visitors, seven minutes later.
Stone Evbuomwam restored ABS’ advantage at the half hour mark from a penalty, before Abubakar Chindo capitalized from a defensive blunder to put the game behind the Promise Keepers.
Rivalry was renewed at the Karkanda Stadium, when two promoted sides, Katsina United and Gombe United, clashed. Tasiu Lawal struck first for the home side in the fifth minute, before Mannir Ubale’s stunning free kick levelled terms for the visitors. Suleiman Ibrahim sealed the win nine minutes before the break.
Sikiru Olatunbosun, Stephen Odey and Adegboyega Adekunle got the goals as MFM dispatched Niger Tornadoes 3-0 in Lagos. Plateau United handed newcomers, Remo Stars their first baptism in the top-flight with a hard fought 2-1 win at Sagamu.
Wikki Tourists and Nasarawa United shared the spoils in Bauchi after a 0-0 draw. At the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan goals from Afolabi Waheed and Sunday Faleye helped Shooting Stars to a comfortable 2-0 win against visiting Lobi Stars.