NPFL 24: Selecting the best XI of the first round (Part 1)

The 2023/24 season of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) has reached the halfway mark with Lobi Stars leading the pack closely followed by Remo Stars while Enyimba's resurgence continued after their Africa Football League exit has seen them shoot to third position.

Afrik-foot.com runs the rule on the best performers by selecting the All Star XI from the first round of games. Here is part one of the selection.

NPFL
Photo by Remo Stars

Kingdom Osayi – Goalkeeper (Doma United)

His potential has been evident since his days with Mountain of Fire and Miracle, but it is this season at Doma United that Osayi has truly come into his own.

Blessed with good height and sharp reflexes, Osayi has kept 11 clean sheets to propel Doma to fourth place, a position many did not envision for the Savannah Tigers at this stage of the season when they were promoted to the NPFL.

A skilled shot-stopper, his distribution is arguably the best in the league. Adding flavor to his stats, Osayi has contributed two assists this season, both earned against city rivals Gombe United on matchday seven in a 3-0 ‘away' win.

Ismail Sodiq – Right back (Remo Stars)

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Photo by Remo Stars

Arguably the breakout star of the season with his fantastic displays on the right side of Remo Stars' defense.

Sodiq has won many hearts with his energy and industry as Remo raced into the top three as the league reached the halfway mark.

Blessed with good pace and fantastic crossing ability, he has tallied 11 assists in 18 games so far.

Though a right back, Sodiq is one of the reasons Remo Stars are where they are at the moment.

Daniel Itodo – Left back (Plateau United)

A veteran defender who has featured for the Nigeria CHAN team and won the league title with Plateau United in 2017.

The left back is still with the club and currently serves as captain due to the club captain Elisha Golbe's inability to break into the team. Not blessed with pace, his positional awareness and experience have proved valuable for Plateau when needed.

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Photo by David King – Plateau United

Itodo is renowned for his long throws, a technique popularized by former Stoke City defender Rory Delap. Plateau United, currently sixth on the log, have maximized his long throws to their full potential.

With three assists to his name, all from long throws, his routine has played a role in 12 of the 24 goals Plateau United has recorded so far in the league.

Sunday Chukwu – Centre back (Lobi Stars)

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Photo by Richard Ajegena

One of the most underrated center-backs in the league who has begun to show his true capabilities. The former Kano Pillars defender has been a crucial leader for table-toppers Lobi Stars, exhibiting strong defending and leadership qualities at the back.

Standing at 6’4, Chukwu is very difficult to beat in the air and puts this to good use when defending set pieces, while he's also registered two goals at the other end.

Nelson Abiam – Centre back (Doma United)

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Photo by Doma United

The center-back joined newly-promoted Doma United from Nasarawa United and quickly settled into the squad as they began life in the top flight for the first time.

Abiam gained national recognition when he scored a long-range free-kick against Shooting Stars, and since then, he has not looked back. Surprisingly, even as a defender, Abiam is the highest goal-scorer at the club with five goals.

He combines his defensive duties with a strong sense of offensive outreach when the need arises, culminating in five league goals, the most by any defender in the league so far. This includes that majestic overhead kick that earned Doma a point in their last game against Rivers United at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe.

NPFL 24: Selecting the best XI of the first round (Part 1)
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a seasoned Africa sports journalist, and a former Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 national team. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on the NPFL and African football, Randa is esteemed for his expertise in football content creation. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of being Nigeria's foremost sports kit designer and a trailblazer in the realm of sports graphics in Nigeria.