Nigerian clubs are becoming well known in Africa and the world of football after performances in some international tournaments and friendlies, as well as Nigerian players who have graduated from local clubs in foreign clubs abroad. Today we will explore the 10 best football clubs in Nigeria.
There are some people who sincerely believe that the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is not worth its time. The reality remains that there are still some patriotic Nigerians who watch and support the NPFL.
Facts about Football Clubs in Nigeria
You should keep in mind that Nigeria’s football clubs are divided into 4 different divisions and stages, depending on their performances. The first division is the Nigeria Premier League, also known as the 1st league. The second division is the National League of Nigeria and is also known as the second league.
The third division is the Nigeria Division 1 and is also known as the 3rd League. The last one is Nigeria Division 2 and is also known as League 4.
Around 19 different clubs make up the Premier League of Nigeria, which is the First League, while 16 clubs make up the National League of Nigeria also called League 2.
Six clubs make up the 3rd League, which is Nigeria Division 1, while only 2 teams are in Nigeria Division 2.
Nigeria Premier League
The Nigeria Premier League was founded in 2003 and is managed by the league’s management company, but sponsored by the Telecommunications Company Globacom. League clubs participate in a series of national competitions such as the Nigeria FA Cup and the Nigeria Super Cup.
In addition to these national competitions, they also participate in a series of continental competitions, such as the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
The clubs that make the first three places in the National League of Nigeria join the Premier League of Nigeria, while the last three clubs in the main league table are relegated to the National League of Nigeria.
Enugu Rangers is the current NPL champion for 2016. Both Enugu’s rangers and Enyimba International FC are the two most successful Nigerian football clubs that have won the NPL title most of the time.
Classification of the Premier League of Nigeria
The Premier League of Nigeria is one of the most exciting soccer leagues in the world. Although the NPL clubs are not yet there with European professional clubs like FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich FC, etc., they are fun to watch.
If you want to know what makes the Nigeria Premier League special, it is the fact that it is extremely competitive, since the club that wins the league in a particular season may not repeat the same feat the following season.
While Enyimba International FC won the NPL title in 2015, in 2016 Enugu Rangers won the title with 36 games played each season in the NPL.
Enugu Rangers won with 63 points on the table, while Rivers United FC came second in the NPL table. Wikki Tourist ranked third in the 2016 NPL campaign with 57 points. The fourth in the table is the Ifeanyi Ubah football club, which scored 56 points.
Nigeria and its local Football clubs
Nigeria has embraced football since its introduction in its land. Since then, there has been a growing growth rate in the number of football clubs registered in the Federation.
Nigerian football clubs are not as rich as popular European clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, etc., but they are becoming well known among Nigerians and even in Africa. Most football talents in the world of football are found in the African continent and even in Nigeria.
Not everyone is familiar with all football clubs in Nigeria, but this article, in order of qualification from lowest to highest, will discuss the 10 best football clubs in Nigeria and a brief history about them
Dolphin Football Club (Rivers United Football Club) – Port Harcourt, Rivers State, South-Southern Nigeria
In 2004–05, the team was sixth in the Nigerian Premier League. Representing their country in the 2005 CAF Confederation Cup, they reached the final, losing to the FAR Rabat of Morocco.
They play their home games at the Liberation Stadium, now known as Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia-Port Harcourt. However, for the 2008 Confederation Cup, they played their games at the U. J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
They were relegated from the Nigerian Premier League in 2007 by one point. However, they returned to retain the FA Cup over Enugu Rangers. They returned to the Premier League after winning their division in 2009.
Lobi Stars Football Club – Makurdi, Benue State, North-Central Nigeria
Lobi Stars Football Club (formerly known as Lobi Bank, BBL Hawks, and Hawks) is a football club based in Makurdi, Benue. They play in the Nigerian Premier League.
The house of the Stars is the 15,000-seat Aper Aku stadium. For the 2012 season, they played some games at the Old Parade Ground in Abuja after they were denied the use of Emmanuel Atongo Stadium, Katsina-Ala or Aper Aku Stadium.
Founded as Hawks of Makurdi in 1981 by the Benue state sports council, the club was renamed Benue Breweries Limited (BBL) Hawks Football club, when state breweries acquired the club in 1985.
There was another change again when the state-owned Lobi Bank acquired the club in 1990 and named it Lobi Bank Football Club.
Lobi Stars won his first and only FA Cup title in 2003 after beating Sharks Fc of Port Harcourt. In 2005 they reached the final of the national FA Cup where they lost to Enyimba.
In August 2009, the Benue state government announced that the club would be leased to private property, ending direct support from the state that never materialized. Lobi finished third in the Glo Premier League in 2012, they also reached the final of the Federation Cup that season, but lost to Owerri Heartland FC.
Nasarawa United Football Club – Lafia, Nasarawa State, North-Central Nigeria
Nasarawa United Football Club is a football club based in Lafia, Nasarawa. They play in the Nigeria Premier League.
The team was founded in 2003 after the Nasarawa government took over Gombe’s Black Stars FC. They joined the Premier League of Nigeria in 2004-05. Its stadium, the stadium of the municipality of Lafia, has a capacity of about 5,000. The club’s nickname is Solid Miners.
The team went through financial deficits in the 2008-09 season that a player described as leaving them on the verge of “starvation.” A 1–1 draw at home on March 7 against the Niger Tornadoes caused local fans to mutiny and even follow the Tornadoes to the hotel and attack them there.
The team was sent to play in Ibadan for the rest of the season and secured the descent to the National League of Nigeria with three games remaining. The resulting debt of 46 million naira (approximately $ 300,000) threatened to cancel the 2009-10 season of the team.
In the middle of the season, the debt was 58 million naira ($ 387,000) and the team lost 16 games due to its precarious financial situation. They returned to the field on April 24 after a five-month suspension was lifted with a 1-0 victory over Mighty Jets.
They were promoted again to the Premier League in 2012 after winning their division.
Akwa United Football Club – Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, South-Southern Nigeria
F.C Akwa United is a Nigerian club based in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom, Nigeria. Akwa United was founded by the State Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom, Marine Captain Joseph Adeusi in December 1996.
The Akwa Ibom State Government quickly bought the slot of the late NITEL Vasco Da Gama de Enugu when his administration announced the dissolution of the club at the end of November 1996. They won promotion to the Nigerian Premier League in 2006 for very questionable reasons.
Upon entering the last game that needed a 12-0 victory to beat Bussdor FC in points and GD, they defeated their rivals Calabar Rovers 13-0 to win the slot amid screaming match-fixing.
In 2007, they were beaten with a record fine of $ 10,000 when three people died after a home game with Enyimba. The team was originally banned from playing in Uyo for three years, but on appeal, the ban was reduced to one year pending the reconstruction of the land.
They were relegated to Division 1 of the Pro League on the last day of the 2008-09 season by goal difference after Zamfara United won 9-0.
They won their first big trophy in November 2015, when they defeated Makurdi’s Lobi Stars 2-1 at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, to secure the Federation Cup.
Its local stadium is the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
Enugu Rangers International Football Club – Enugu, Enugu State, South-Eastern Nigeria
The Rangers International Football Club, commonly known as Enugu Rangers, is a Nigerian professional association football team. They are based in Enugu and play their home games at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.
In 2008-09, they played some games near Abakaliki and Nnewi as their stadium was renewed for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009. Before the season began, Enugu state governor Sullivan Chime, paid the accumulation of login fees dating back three years ago and all other debts to the players.
In November 2008, the Rangers became the first Nigerian club to be a public company and sell property shares. However, the agreement failed and the club began to borrow the 2009 season.
The club had 7 appearances in the African Cup of Champions Clubs from 1971 to 1985 and 3 appearances in the CAF Champions League from 2006 to 2017. This club has never been relegated from the main league and has won the league six times, being its most recent success in 1984
Notable personalities that once associated with the club include the retired Super Eagles and Nigerian national team midfielder Austin Jay Jay Okocha and Christian Chukwu, who served as a coach at Rangers FC and the national team.
Warri Wolves Football Club – Warri, Delta State, South-Southern Nigeria
The Warri Wolves Football Club (formerly called NPA FC) is a Nigerian football club previously run by the Nigerian Port Authority. Before 2003, the club was based in Warri, Delta state, but moved to Lagos after the promotion to the Nigeria Premier League in 2003.
After reaching the 2001 Super Four playoffs, Warri Wolves Football Club was relegated by three points next season after winning only 10 of 34 league games. They were promoted again in 2003 after finishing second in Division 2.
The Warri Wolves Football Club ended its 2004/05 season near the end of the table and it was announced that 16 of its 40 players would be fired. The team was relegated again after the 2005-06 season and returned to Warri in April 2007 after an agreement with the Delta state government.
The team was renamed “Warri Wolves” at the beginning of the season and won promotion to the 2009 Premier League season as champions of Division 1B.
The wolves finished with 59 points of 18 wins, five draws, and seven losses, scoring 42 goals and conceded 16. They were involved in an incident on March 8, 2008, when a launch invasion after a goalless draw at First Bank FC left seven players and officials injured.
They played the first part of the 2008-09 season in Oleh due to the renovations of the Warri stadium.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah – Nnewi, Anambra State, South-Eastern Nigeria
FC Ifeanyi Ubah was born from the acquisition of Gabros International Football Club by a Nigerian senator, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah. The Club was previously known as the IYAYI football club of the city of Benin before its acquisition by Chief Gabriel Chukwuma and renamed the Gabros International Football Club.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah is based at 21 Nnobi Road, Nnewi Anambra State. On November 6, 2016, FC IFEANYI UBAH defeated Nasarawa United FC on penalties to secure a historic Federation Cup at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
Since the Anambra state division, no state soccer club has won the trophy. Ifeanyi Ubah F.C is one of the few private football clubs in the NPFL and the richest football club in Nigeria for 2019.
The club has achieved massive success as a newly formed club that accumulates crowds of fans throughout southeastern Nigeria and across the country in general.
Super Eagles team goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa was once a player in the club.
Heartland Football Club – Owerri, Imo State, South-Eastern Nigeria
Heartland FC (formerly known as Iwuanyanwu Nationale from 1985 to 2006) is a Nigerian football club based in Owerri. They play their home games at Dan Anyiam Stadium. Enyimba FC are his rivals.
Until their 18th place on display and down in 2016, they were one of two teams in the top category that had never been relegated. In October 2017, Heartland F.C. He won the Southern Conference of the National League of Nigeria to return to the summit.
Originally founded as Spartans FC, it was renamed Iwuanyanwu Nationale FC in 1985 after a successful change of ownership of the Government of the State of Imo to Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
In 2006, the Imo state government re-acquired the property of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu’s club and renamed it Heartland FC.
Heartland FC has a good number of notable and famous players who were once part of the National Team such as Uche Okechukwu, Ben Iroha and “Papilo” Kanu Nwankwo who played there in 1993.
Kano Pillars Football Club – Kano, Kano State, North-Western Nigeria
Kano Pillars Football Club is a Nigerian football club based in Kano. F.C Kano Pillars is a club based in Nigeria that was founded in 1990 (one of the oldest in the country). They also play in the highest division of the Nigerian league, which is the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
The club has won four titles in the Nigerian first league. Win the league 2008 and successively in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The Kano state government, Nigeria, owns Kano Pillars F.C and they earn money with many sponsorship applications they receive from the best brands and from the Kano state government itself. They play in the first division of Nigerian football, the Nigerian Premier League.
Its local stadium is the Sani Abacha stadium. Kano Pillars FC was founded in 1990, the year the professional association of the football league in Nigeria began.
It was an amalgam of three amateur clubs in the state of Kano that gave rise to Kano Pillars FC.
Founded in 1990, by Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, former president of the Football Association of Nigeria and former sports commissioner of Kano, from the combination of WRECA FC, Kano Golden Stars and Bank of the North FC, Kano Pillars achieved outstanding success by winning the Nigerian Prime Minister of the 2007-08 League.
Kano Pillars produced players like Abiodun Baruwa, who has since played for Swiss, Austrian, Welsh and British clubs and Sani Kaita, who then plays for Sparta Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
It was registered as a limited liability company with the Nigeria Corporate Affairs Commission and then registered with the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) as a professional football club.
The Kano Pillars got an average attendance of the local league of 10,000 in the 2016 league season. It is one of Nigeria’s richest football clubs and is home to some of the highest-paid soccer players in the professional football league of Nigeria.
Captain Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa, also played for Kano Pillars during the early years of his career and is one of Nigeria’s richest footballers.
Enyimba International Football Club – Aba, Abia State, South-Eastern Nigeria
Enyimba International Football Club, or simply Enyimba, is a Nigerian football club based in the city of Aba that plays in the Nigerian Premier League. His name means People’s Elephant in Igbo language and is also the nickname used for the city of Aba.
Founded in 1976, the club rose to fame in the 2000s and is considered the most successful Nigerian football club, as it won two African Champions League titles, six Nigerian championships, and four Federation Cups since 2001.
Enyimba International Football Club is one of the best clubs in the professional football league of Nigeria. Enyimba is still doing very well when it comes to the general maintenance of the club, players, and fans.
It houses some of the highest-paid players in the NPFL. It is reported that the income of Enyimba F.C is around 10 million euros, which makes them one of the richest African clubs.
Enyimba’s fate began to change in 1999 when Orji Uzor Kalu was elected governor of Abia State in the first democratic elections held in the country after several years of military rule.
Kalu then proceeded to secure generous funds for the home team and appointed Felix Anyansi Agwu as the new president of the club, who in turn appointed Godwin Koko Uwa as the first coach of the club in the new era.
The appointment soon yielded results, as Uwa led Enyimba to his first Nigerian championship title in the 2001 season, and won the Nigerian Super Cup in October 2001.
Its playing field, the Enyimba International Stadium, a stadium with capacity for 15,000 people equipped with reflectors, electronic scoreboard and covered seats, which was then inspected by the president of the CAF, Issa Hayatou, and was officially approved for the matches of the CAF Champions League that year.
Several key players of Enyimba’s continental success in 2003 have since played for Nigeria (Vincent Enyeama, Obinna Nwaneri and Onyekachi Okonkwo) and the National Team of the Republic of Benin (Muri Ogunbiyi)
As the saying goes, “Charity begins at home”; Being a lover of football or soccer in Nigeria, you may be conversant with the international league matches in Europe, Asia and America, it is also necessary that you know about the local leagues at home, as well as the top football clubs in Nigeria; as there are optimum display of talents in the Nigerian field of play.
We also recommend the following Vital sports information