The Nigerian Professional Football League has come back with a bang this season and it's already promising to be an interesting ride for the fans. About 10 matches have been played by each side so far, with a lot of highlights as clubs lock horns in an intense battle in the Nigerian top-flight.
Aba based-club, Enyimba FC, claimed the title last season under the guidance of their manager, Usman Abd'Allah. The People's Elephant went all the way to win the prestigious crown for the eighth time in their history during the campaign. All eyes will be on the tactician to see if he could inspire his side to defend the title and become the first side to do so after Kano Pillars did it in 2012 and 2013.
Besides Usman Abd'Allah, other managers who are also doing fine and will be keen to make a statement in the division this term. It promises to be an interesting contest between these top-class tacticians. As such, we are inspired to take a look at the top 5 managers in the division this season. They are as follows:
#5 Ibrahim Musa
Ibrahim Musa is one manager in the Nigerian Premier League right now who cannot be overlooked on this list. The Kano Pillars manager endured difficulties when his side faltered in the 2018 Aiteo Federation Cup Final but he's been able to gather himself to reinstate his status as one of the top dogs in the division.
After he was re-appointed in January 2019, the gaffer made history when he managed to pip Niger Tornadoes to the Aiteo Cup in July. He also finisehd the campaign as runners up to Enyimba on the NPFL table.
Although Kano Pillars are yet to hit their normal height this season, the expectation is that they'll soon start firing on all cylinders. The upcoming transfer window presents the club the chance to work on the squad; offloading some old players and signing new ones to boost the team.
#4 Imama Amapakabo
It came as a surprise when Imama emerged as arguably the most popular local head coach in the Nigeria Football League. This is because little, if anything, was known about him aside the fact that he had a short stint with Eyimba of Aba, but his recent achievement with Enugu Rangers brought him back into the spotlight.
With this achievement in consideration, the Nigerian Football Federation offered him a job as an assistant to the former acting coach of the Super Eagles, Salisu Abubakar, a job he held on to. He was also later asked to replace the former Eyimba manager, Salisu Yusuf, after his dollar scandal in 2018.
Recently though, Imama had fell out of favour with the Nigerian football faithful, having failed to get Nigeria to qualify for the much anticipated Tokyo 2020 after the home-based Super Eagles’ performances at the CHAN tournament ended in shambles.
#3 Gbenga Ogunbote
Nicknamed “The Oracle”, Ogunbote is a manager every Nigerian football club will want in their team. This is quite surprising considering the fact that he began his coaching career at Sunshine Stars in 2012. How he was able to rise to stardom is something that is baffling.
During his time with Enugu Rangers, his Flying Antelopes team performed something of a miracle in 2017 when they, after succumbing to a crushing 3-nil defeat to Kano Pillars during the final of the Aiteo Cup, managed to get the game to a penalty shootout and eventually won.
In 2018, he bagged the award of the Nigerian Best Coach even though he was in contention against the Super Eagles head coach, Gernot Rohr and the former Lobi Stars’ manager, Solomon Ogbede. It is interesting to note that he was even the one who replaced Ogbede at Lobi after the latter was fired.
#2 Usman Abd'allah
This is one of the hottest managers in the Nigerian Premier League at the moment. How can you ignore the man who made waves on his way to leading Enyimba to claim the Nigerian Premier League title last season.
Usman Abd'allah has returned into the division with another challenge in his sight. He currently has his mind set on leading Enyimba to defend the crown and he has kicked-off the campaign on an encouraging note. The People's Elephant rank nineth on the table at present.
They've picked up 15 points in 9 NPFL games so far. They still have two games in hand, though. Abd'allah will surely be worthy of winning the best manager in the league next year if he can guide his team to make it two in a row this season.
#1 Kennedy Boboye
If you pay attention to the present developments in the Nigerian Premier League at the moment, Kennedy Boboye will definitely be one of the top managers you'd expect to find here on this list. His inclusion is a well-deserved one.
The present Plateau United manager is off to a great start in the league this season. His side currently tops the NPFL table with 21 points from 11 games so far. They've also conceded just 9 goals and scored 16.
Plateau United are the standout performers in the Nigerian top-flight this term. They look ready to make a statement. Boboye is proving to be a tactical genius with the way he is outplaying opposition teams in the division. If he manages to keep the Jos-based club in top shape till the end of the term, nothing will stop them from claiming the title.