10 September 2017 11:03
After more than four decades of existence, Plateau United were on Saturday crowned Nigeria league champions for the first time after a 2-0 win over Rangers on the final day at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium earned them the 2016/2017 title.
The ‘Tin City Boys’ thus finished the season on 66 points after 38 round of matches while closest challengers, Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) lost 2-1 away to El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri to finish in second position with 62 points.
In Jos, lanky Chukwuemeka Umeh nearly gave Plateau United the lead as early as the second minute but his header off a free-kick was cleared to safety. He eventually grabbed the curtain raiser as he calmly put the ball behind goalkeeper Itodo Akor in the 26th minute.
Second half substitute Benjamin Turba added the second goal almost at the dot of time when he slammed home from a melee in the Rangers’ box to send the fans and entire Jos township into wild jubilation; as Plateau United became the 19th team to be crowned Nigerian league champions
First ever league triumph
It was the first ever league triumph for the Jos-based club formed in 1975 as rivals to fellow Jos-based club, Mighty Jets; who incidentally won their maiden Nigerian domestic league title in 1972.
Some 45 years later, it was the turn of another club from the city to win the title and no one would certainly blame the Plateau United faithful for rolling out the drums in wild jubilation.
Coach Kennedy Boboye, a former Nigeria Olympic star, who joined Plateau from Abia Warriors at the start of the season, deserves much credit for winning the title in only his first season at the club.
“Congratulations to coach Boboye and his Plateau United players for a very consistent and solid performance to win the league; very well deserved,” offered Adetilewa Adebajo, chairman of famous Lagos Club, Stationery Stores.
“Congrats to MFM for a spirited performance going down to the wire to the last game keeping it competitive and qualifying for the Champions League.”
Alfred Dakup, Plateau’s Media Officer also told CAFOnline.com: “Plateau United has never won the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) and this is a reward for our hard work for the 2016/ 2017 season.
“The last time Plateau United did something spectacular was in 1999 when we won the FA Cup and that is almost 20 years ago. Winning the league is a different feeling entirely. It is a feeling of accomplishment and manifestation of the support from the State government under Governor Simon Lalong towards revitalising sport especially football in the state,” he added.
Apart from the ticket to represent Nigeria in next year’s Total CAF Champions League alongside runners-up, MFM, Plateau received a prize-money of 50 Million Naira (US$137,600).
Two-time continental champions, Enyimba, which finished third, will play in the second-tier Total CAF Confederation Cup to be joined by the winner of the Federation Cup (FA Cup).
Meanwhile, Lobi Stars' Anthony Okpotu who scored his 19th goal of the season in his club’s 1-1 away draw at FC IfeanyiUbah finished top scorer.
Meanwhile, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC); ABS of Ilorin; Gombe United and Remo Stars, which finished in the bottom four have been relegated from the top flight.
NIGERIAN LEAGUE PAST WINNERS
•1972: Mighty Jets of Jos
•1973: Bendel Insurance
•1974: Rangers International FC
•1975: Rangers International FC
•1976: Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC)
•1977: Rangers International FC
•1978: Racca Rovers
•1979: Bendel Insurance
•1980: Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC)
•1981: Rangers International FC
•1982: Rangers International FC
•1983: Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC)
•1984: Rangers International
•1985: New Nigeria Bank
•1986: Leventis United
•1987: Iwuanyanwu Nationale
•1988: Iwuanyanwu Nationale
•1989: Iwuanyanwu Nationale
•1990: Iwuanyanwu Nationale
•1991: Julius Berger
•1992: Stationery Stores
•1993: Iwuanyanwu Nationale
•1994: BCC Lions
•1995: Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC)
• 1996: Udoji United
•1997: Eagle Cement
•1998: Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC)
•1999: Lobi Stars
•2000: Julius Berger
•2001: Enyimba International FC
•2002: Enyimba International FC
•2003: Enyimba International FC
•2004: Dolphins F.C.
•2005: Enyimba International FC
•2006: Ocean Boys FC
•2007: Enyimba International FC
•2008: Kano Pillars F.C.
•2009: Bayelsa United
•2010: Enyimba International FC
•2011: Dolphins F.C.
•2013: Kano Pillars F.C.
•2014: Kano Pillars F.C.
•2015: Enyimba International FC
•2016: Rangers International FC
•2017: Plateau United FC