Ensuing the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Championship Playoffs draws ceremony which held on Friday, June 2, in Lagos, Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin have been paired against Lobi Stars of Makurdi in their first game as the league title and continental tickets pursuit begin on Saturday, June 3, at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium, Onikan, Lagos.
Recall that the playoffs grouped all six teams into two, with Remo Stars, Bendel Insurance, and Enyimba in Group A, while Rivers United, Lobi Stars, and Sunshine Stars are in Group B.
With the playoffs, all six teams will play in a round-robin format of five games each, and the team with the most point garnered becomes the 2023 Abridged NPFL tournament’s ultimate champion.
The Benin Arsenals will battle the Group B first runners up Lobi Stars in what some football pundits have described as block buster tie, scheduled to kick off at 6:00 pm on Saturday, June 3, 2023.
Bendel Insurance FC finished the 2022/23 Nigeria Premier Football League abridged regular league season as Group A leaders with 34 points ahead of Remo Stars (33 points) and Enyimba FC (32 points).
Lobi Stars on the other hand finished as first runners up in group B with 30 points, four points behind Group B Leaders and defending Champions Rivers Utd and three points superior to Sunshine Stars of Akure.
The coach Monday Odigie led Benin Arsenals will be looking to extend their unbeaten run and set a new record of 19 league matches unbeaten record when they file out against the Makurdi based side on Saturday.
Bendel Insurance FC equalled Akwa Utd 18 games unbeaten record when they were forced to 1-1 draw at relegated Nasarawa Utd on the last day of the regular season at the New Jos Stadium in Plateau State.
Insurance FC have been faced with congested fixtures, being the only Super Six team remaining in the Federation Cup after edging Sunshine Stars out of the Challenge Cup on Sunday, May 28 in Awka, Anambra State.
While other Super Six contenders have been resting and preparing for the playoffs, the invincible Insurance FC were engaged in a fieced semifinals battle of the FA Cup competition with Warri Wolves on Thursday, June 1 at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium.
Insurance FC defeated the NNL side Warri Wolves 4-2 in a penalty shootout after 0-0 draw to reach the final after 17 years of wait. Insurance will be fighting for the trophy against six times champions Rangers International of Enugu after the Super Six playoffs.
Meanwhile, Enyimba and Remo Stars have been paired to open the NPFL Championship Playoffs at 2pm before Sunshine vs Rivers United at 4pm.
In Day 2 fixtures on June 5th, Lobi stars and Enyimba will battle in the day’s opener at 2pm, while Rivers United vs Remo Stars’ game follows at 4pm.
Bendel Insurance vs Sunshine Stars match at 6pm will wrap up the Day 2 fixtures
Bendel Insurance vs Enyimba will open the playoffs Day 3 encounters on June 7th at 2pm while Remo Stars vs Sunshine Stars at 4pm and Lobi stars vs Rivers United at 6pm follow respectively.
The Day 4 fixtures on June 9th will see Rivers United vs Bendel Insurance opening the day’s fireworks at 2pm before
Lobi stars and Remo Stars lock horns at 4pm. Sunshine Stars and Enyimba are paired against each other in the last match of the day at 6pm.
In Day 5 on June 11th which marks end of competition, Sunshine Stars vs Lobi Stars are scheduled to begin action at 2pm, while Remo and Bendel Insurance slug it out at 4pm before Enyimba vs Rivers United match at 6pm will be tournament closing ceremony game after which the champions are crowned.
The resultant standings of the playoffs would decide which teams will feature in CAF competitions for the 2023-24 season, with the top three gaining automatic qualification to the Champions League, while the fourth-best team and the winner of the Federation Cup would proceed to the Confederation Cup simultaneously.