The 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) will finally kick off on Sunday, January 8, 2023, as scheduled with Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin being guests to 2020/21 champions Akwa United of Uyo in the curtain raiser game of the new league season.
The rest of MatchDay1 fixtures earlier scheduled to hold simultaneously with the Akwa Utd-Insurance game have been rescheduled to hold on Sunday, January 15, 2023, across the various centers nationwide.
The Akwa United and Bendel Insurance game is scheduled to kick off at 4 pm at the Next of Champions pitch of Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.
The game which is also expected to be streamed live on terrestrial TV, Bendel Insurance facebook TV, and YouTube, no doubt will attract a large followership, and the esteemed presence of the NFF president Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau and IMC Chairman, Sunday Elegbeleye in Uyo.
Insurance returned to the premier league in 2019 after ten years in relegation but was not in the same group as Akwa Utd in the abridged League which was not favorable to all the four promoted clubs as Benin Arsenal immediately returned to the second-tier League.
The Benin Arsenals are again made to play in another abridged format this season but have been working hard and have fortified their side in a bid to avoid a repeat of the 2019 setback.
Insurance has so far registered about thirty players to begin the new season with a blend of enterprising young and experienced players as they aimed to retain their new status as Nigeria’s premier league club.
They parade the likes of Image Osarenkhoe, Iyeanyi Okorogha, Divine Nwachukwu, Benjamin Tanimu, and Sunday Anyanwu who were among the best players and highest goal scorers in the last season of the Nigeria National League (NNL).
The Benin Arsenals now have some experienced NPFL players in their fold including Austin Ogunye, and Ebuka Akobundu both signed from Sunshine Stars; Osas Okoro(Nasarawa Utd); Micah Ojodomo and Julius Emiloju (MFM) and Ebenezer Odeyrmi from Gombe Utd among others.
Coach Odigie left the club after 2019 to study abroad and returned in the 2021/22 season and immediately guided the Benin Arsenals to the NPFL again.
According to the Insurance Technical Director Monday Odigie, after his team defeated Rangers International FC of Enugu in the NPFL-Dozzy Super Cup preseason tournament in Lagos,” Bendel Insurance FC is a work in progress.
Speaking ahead of the Sunday game, Insurance stand-in captain Efe Enabulele said,” Wehave respect for the 2020/21 NPFL champions but are not afraid of our host or any other team in the League.
On the other hand, Akwa United was not fantastic in their last season campaign as they were in 2021 but that will not make Insurance complacent and underestimate the Promise Keepers who will be enjoying the cheers from their home fans and other home supporters.