Rivers United midfielder Nelson Esor has described the ongoing 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season as the toughest since the competition’s inception in 2012.
Akwa United are top of the league table with 53 points from 29 matches, while Nasarawa United and Kano Pillars are tied on 52 points but separated by goals difference in second and third place respectively.
So far this season, no fewer than six different clubs have occupied the summit of the NPFL log at one point or the other, with the battle for survival also intense amongst Warri Wolves, Sunshine Stars, FC IfeanyiUbah, Jigawa Golden Stars, Wikki Tourists and Katsina United.
Despite the stiff competition for places at the top of the league, the former Go Round captain says he is optimistic his Rivers United side – who are currently sixth on the standings with 48 points – will end the season at the summit of the table.
“It’s a very tough season,” Esor said of the current NPFL campaign. “I think, so far, this is the toughest season in the NPFL since the inception of the league.
“So many teams have been on the top (of the table), and we are still counting down to some other teams to still stay at the top.
“Rivers United are not counted out. We’re still hoping to be at the top. We believe we’ll still come up with our fighting spirit and get to the top before the end of the season.”
In a move aimed at spurring the Port Harcourt side to the title, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike had earlier in the season promised to give Stanley Eguma’s men N10m for every away win they secure.
According to Esor, the Pride of Rivers usually get their wages as at when due and remain financially-motivated to bring the NPFL crown to Port Harcourt this season.
“We’ve been motivated seriously, like seriously,” he said. “I’ve never seen a team being motivated financially like this when it comes to football in the country.
“From the Government down to the Commissioner (for Sports) to everybody, we get everything we need. Our salaries are paid on time, and you can see the spirit gets high every day in the team. Everybody wants to come here and play and show themselves.
“We are believing that because of the motivation given to the team, we are doing our best, putting up our performance in high spirit, making sure we get the maximum points both home and away, and putting smiles on the faces of the people of Rivers State and the Governor in particular.”
Rivers United will continue their title chase with a Match Day 30 fixture against former champions Plateau United in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.