CLUB NEWS

NPFL 2017: Plateau United on the edge of history

By Andrew Randa

Plateau United’s fairytale in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) would be complete if they get the job done over Rangers International of Enugu on the final matchday at the Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos.

Not many gave Kennedy Boboye and his wards a chance at the start of the season but after putting in the leg work, the Jos-based side are unarguably the standout team of the season.

Needing a win, irrespective of what happens in the game involving second-placed MFM FC at El-Kanemi Warriors, to lay their hands on a first ever NPFL title, they will do all they can to put smiles on the faces of Jos fans who have had to endure almost two decades of heartbreak.

No major title has come to Jos since the 1999 Federation Cup (now Aiteo Cup) when Donatus Iloka’s solitary goal crowned Plateau United winners of the cup.

Npfl.ng went around Jos to feel the pulse of the fans as the final game of the season looms on the horizon. The frenzy and ‘noise’ decibels have stepped a notch as a lot of fans are already in a celebratory mood.

Their stories.

 

Plangkat Milaham, Jos-based pharmacist

It was exhilarating to see Plateau United promoted to Nigeria's top-flight league in 2015.

Fans were also elated that there were great strides towards improving the club. The appointment of coach Zachary Baraje particularly brought me great joy. At that moment, I knew the club was ready to play ball and it wouldn't be long before we clinched the league title.

Last season was a great one. Our home record was amazing, it was beautiful seeing Plateau United trounce visitors on home ground. We didn't make the top-four as we finished sixth but we were excited.

Life as a Plateau United fan even got more exciting when coach Kennedy Boboye took over. We expected more from the team this season and the boys didn't fail to deliver. Soon we will make history and be crowned champions of Nigeria.

I love the team and the excitement they bring but my personal favourite player is Daniel Itodo. I love him for his long throws. It's always a delight seeing him provide assists with long throw-ins from every part of the pitch.

Hopefully, winning the league will be just the beginning because I believe our best years are still to come.

Shuaibu Umoru, financial expert, Jos

Watching Plateau United surge to the top of the table and at the cusp of victory is a feeling I can’t explain. Personally, I wasn’t sure we were going to be in the top-three teams this season but the team has done quite well to get to this level.

I grew in Jos playing football for local teams and we all had dreams to play for either Highlanders (as Plateau United was called then) or Mighty Jets and win titles with them.

That didn’t happen for me but I’m still overjoyed that by God’s grace the Nigeria Professional Football League will be coming to Jos.

I watched Plateau United defeat Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland FC) to win the FA Cup in 1999 and I thank God that I will see another title triumph with my beloved United. I want to plead with the government to invest more in sports and youth development because that is the future of any state or country.

Plateau United’s success this season should show the government that sports and the youth can bring glory to them.

For me and my friends, we will be in at the stadium in Jos where hopefully we beat Rangers International to win the title. I’m very excited right now.

Mary Dalyop, student, Plateau State Polytechnic

My joy is so much that I cannot express it right now. I’m very sure the team will do us proud and win the league. I’m a student but I always make out time to go and watch the team play. I have been a fan of the team for the past four years now and the journey has been remarkable I must admit.

One thing that has really made me happy is that there is little or no rivalry now between Plateau United and Mighty Jets. Everyone has come to support the team unlike last season and a few seasons back when fans of Mighty Jets will come to the stadium to cheer away teams.

We do not see that again and I believe that is one of the reasons the team has been successful this season. I’m very happy and I hope the government will continue to support the club when the CAF Champions League starts.

Yohanna Ibrahim, businessman, Jos

I was happy when Plateau United appointed Kennedy Boboye as the coach but I never thought we will be in this position as we are right now. To be candid, I will be lying if I said I knew the league might be heading to Jos. We only need to draw the last game to win the title but I never saw it coming.

Kudos to the management of the team, the players and the governor for supporting and motivating the team. You just need to go into town to see how people are excited about the prospect of a first ever title for Plateau State.

One thing that is happening without many people knowing is this success is generating a lot of interest among the youths. If you go to many football fields in Jos, you see young kids wanting to be Elisha Golbe or a Benjamin Turba.

I also saw a few last time I went to watch a local training practice how to throw the ball like Daniel Itodo does for Plateau United. Our impending victory has made more young people to take football and training more serious.

Hopefully, the government will key into this. I can’t wait for the final game of the season and I hope the boys will make us proud.


Sunday Longbap, chairman, Plateau State Football Association

It has been a very tough season for the team but I’m glad we are in a position to celebrate and say we have done well for ourselves. I must give kudos to the management of Plateau United for all they have done to get the team to this level and top of the league.

The players too have given their all and I must commend them for making Plateau State proud. They gave their all on the pitch and have done Plateau State proud. We had a mission this season and God had blessed us to be top of the league and on the verge of winning the league. I and my board are extremely happy that during our tenure, we were able to lead Plateau United to glory.

I want to specifically thank his Excellency, the Executive Governor of Plateau State Rt. Hon Simon Lalong for his unflinching support for the team. He has motivated the boys to do well and you know that nothing beats motivation. His Excellency has shown that he is a man of his words and always fulfills his promises. Youth development and sports have always been on top of his agenda and this impending success is a testament to that.

I want to thank him and the entire government for all they have done for the team this season and by God’s grace on Sunday, we shall deliver the title and trophy to him.

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