Akwa United defender Samson Gbadebo says the reigning Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions are now the team to beat and remains confident they are ‘capable’ of successfully retaining their crown this season.
The Promise Keepers remarkably claimed their first-ever NPFL title last season, impressively going 18 matches unbeaten in the process – a record in the top-flight.
After three matches in the current campaign, Kennedy Boboye’s side sit second on the log with seven points, same as leaders Remo Stars, who have a better goals difference.
The two-time Aiteo Cup champions laboured to a 1-0 win against newly-promoted Gombe United in Uyo on Wednesday, with forward Ubong Friday converting a second half penalty to hand them maximum points.
Asked if Akwa United can retain their title this season, the 25-year-old former Enyimba and Rivers United centre-back said: “This season just started, and every season cannot be the same.
“We are the league champions, we expect very tough opponents this season. Every team we play against will try to make sure they win us because they are playing against the league champions. They will try to double their effort to make sure they win us.
“And every match we play from now will be like a Cup final, but we are capable of the task, and we know with our effort, we are capable (of defending the title),” he concluded.
Akwa United will next face hosts Nasarawa United in Lafia on Sunday in a Match Day 4 tie, as they continue their title defence.