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 By Colin Udoh

NPFL title race takes shape in home stretch; musical chairs for managers

The Nigeria Professional League is set to return after nearly three weeks off. Who will take the title?

After nearly three weeks of rest and recuperation to allow teams recover from the grueling schedule of two matches a week, the Nigeria Professional League returns this weekend for its home stretch.

Here are five things we can expect from the business end of the season.

1. Odey drama

Few can deny that MFM striker Stephen Odey has been the focal talking point of this season. It is no less than a man who has scored 14 goals in 19 games rightly deserves. But Odey saved his drama for midseason.

After...

 By Colin Udoh

Henry Onyekuru: Hot property in Europe, cold shoulder in Nigeria

Henry Onyekuru, one of Nigeria's top goal-scorers in Europe, was left off the national squad for the May 26 friendly against Corsica.
Henry Onyekuru isn't on Nigeria's squad for next week's friendly against Corsica, despite his being one of the Super Eagles' top scorers in Europe.

In the past couple of months, Nigeria technical adviser Gernot Rohr has named two squads. The first was for two scheduled international friendly matches in London, one of which ended up being cancelled.

The second, named last week, is for another friendly -- May 26 against Corsica -- to allow the coach to cast his eye over some fresh talent, including three domestic-league players.

Since he took over the Nigeria job, Rohr appears to have made a point of selecting players who fit into a certain mould:...

 By Colin Udoh

Three more players from Nigerian domestic league join national team

Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr was criticised for the lack of domestic players on his last squad.

It has taken a while, but Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr finally did some bending by calling up three additional players from the domestic league to join Ikechukwu Ezenwa for an international friendly match against the Corsica Senior National Team later this month.

Under Rohr, the FC Ifeanyi Ubah goalkeeper had been the lone NPFL representative in the Super Eagles squad. Not any more.

After the ruckus raised when the last squad was announced, this will both provide respite for...

 By Colin Udoh

Stephen Odey trialling in Europe at exactly the wrong time

MFM striker Stephen Odey.
The Nigerian league's top scorer, Stephen Odey, left MFM FC for trials with a club in Denmark.

Ordinarily, news of a Nigerian player's impending transfer from the domestic league to Europe would be greeted with some gaiety, revelry even.

One need not look too deep to understand why: greater exposure, better training facilities, more opportunity to compete against the best, sometimes a stepping stone to better moves and, of course, significantly higher wages, among other benefits.

None of that conviviality was in evidence when news broke last week that league top scorer Stephen Odey was on...

 By Colin Udoh

Sunshine Stars win Austin Eguavoen's debut, Rangers, Rivers falter

Nasarawa United
Nasarawa United sealed an important win over Rivers.

With most of the clubs in Nigeria's domestic league still on mid-season break, action was restricted to just two games this weekend.

Both involved the teams who had missed games as a result of their continental exertions. Champions Rangers and runners-up Rivers United have been playing catch up, with varying degrees of success. This was one weekend where the effect of those heavy legs took their toll.

Here are three highlights from the past weekend

1. Eguavoen opens with win

Former Nigeria coach...

 By Mark Gleeson

Mamelodi Sundowns/AS Vita Club's recent history highlights CAF CL draw

The CAF Champions League's new format opens up the tournament to more clubs from less traditional footballing powers.

Idrissa Traore is a name already largely forgotten but the Malian midfielder will always have a position of some infamy in the history of the African Champions League

He will be remembered again in the coming months as holders Mamelodi Sundowns were paired on Wednesday with AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the draw for this year's new-look group phase.

Traore, nicknamed "Essien" in his native country, moved at the start of last year to Vita but both he and his new employers...