Edo Queens win first NWFL title

Edo Queens on Sunday emerged champions of the Nigeria Women’s Football League after a 1-1 stalemate with hosts Bayelsa Queens in an explosive match played at the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa in the final game of the 2023/24 NWFL Super Six tournament.

Moses Aduku’s side needed a win to stay top of the standings regardless of the outcome of other games but a stalemate between seven-time champions Rivers Angels and Super Six debutants Heartland Queens in Nembe meant they were crowned champions regardless.

Edo Queens forward Emem Essien netted the opening goal in the 29th minute with an overhead kick inside the six-yard box.

Despite pressure from the home side, backed by their vociferous fans, the Edo girls held on and went into the break with the 1-0 advantage.

But Bayelsa Queens got the equaliser just three minutes after the restart from a long range free kick by Olapde Zainab.

The goal triggered home fans into wild celebrations and cheered their side on for the winner , which would have earned them the title, but Edo Queens soaked the pressure, thwarting move after move.

In the other game that was played simultaneously in Nembe, Rivers Angels took the lead in the 72nd minute with a goal from Olamide Adugbe, shifting the table in their favour. This put pressure on both teams in Yenagoa to find another goal to reclaim the top spot. Bayelsa Queens needed more goals to surpass their South-South neighbours.

However, Heartland Queens played spoilers for Rivers Angels as substitute Emmanuella James scored from a goalmouth scramble, equalising on the dot of 90 minutes. This twist returned the title race in favour of Edo Queens.

Ultimately, both deciding matches ended in 1-1 draws, securing the league title for Edo Queens for the first time.

Rivers Angels thus missed out on their chance to win a record-breaking eighth title to finish second, while Bayelsa Queens also fell short of claiming their sixth title to end in third after successes in the2004, 2006, 2007, 2018 and 2022 seasons.

Frustration then set in for Bayelsa fans after news filtered in that Heartland Queens had held favourites Rivers Angels 1-1 in Nembe, which was played simultaneously.

Edo Queens amassed 10 points — while Bayelsa Queens and Rivers Angels had nine points each — to be crowned deserved champions for the first time ever.

Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has congratulated Edo Queens for winning the NWFL and picking a ticket for the CAF Women Champions League.

In a statement, the Governor praised the team’s doggedness in holding Bayelsa Queens to a 1-1 draw at the NWFL Super Six Playoffs to win their first league title.

Obaseki stated, “I am elated to congratulate our darling girls, Edo Queens, on their outstanding performance in the NWFL Super Six play-offs where they emerged winners and cemented their place for continental action, which is truly where they belong.

“This feat is a reflection of the attention paid to sports development over the years, which includes inclusive welfare packages and other initiatives that have lifted the profile of women’s football in the state.”