Akwa United have won the 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League title after they defeated MFM FC 5-2 in their penultimate fixture of the season on Sunday.
Charles Atshimene stood out for the hosts at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium as his hat-trick of goals helped crush the Olukoya Boys, who are winless in their last eight matches on the road.
Atshimene opened the scoring in the 24th minute followed by Alimi Adebayo’s own goal on the stroke of half-time which gave Kennedy Boboye’s side a two-goal lead at the half-time break.
Akwa United continued their goal-fest after the restart with Mfon Udoh making it 3-0 in the 62nd minute.
Six minutes later, MFM reduced the deficit through Michael Mbonu’s strike from the penalty spot, but it was not enough as Atshimene scored his second in the 87th minute.
The Olukoya Boys responded immediately with their second goal in the encounter courtesy of Dennis Obasi in the 91st minute to make it 4-2.
The scoring did not end there as Atshimene restored the three-goal lead and got his hat-trick to complete the rout for the Promise Keepers in the 97th minute.
The thrilling encounter sealed Akwa United’s position at the top of the NPFL table with 71 points after 37 matches – nine points ahead of second-placed Nasarawa United, who are scheduled to play Enugu Rangers on Monday.
The triumph secured the Promise Keepers’ first-ever top-flight crown in their 25-year history and it is added to their trophy cabinet which has two FA Cups (2015 and 2017) and the Nigeria Super Cup (2016).
On a personal note, Sunday’s heroics stretched Atshimene’s tally to 18 league goals this season and he is tied with Nasarawa United’s Silas Nwankwo for the Golden Boot prize.
Boboye, who moved to Akwa United in December 2019, has now won two NPFL titles after his maiden glory with Plateau United in the 2016-17 season.
Akwa United will be hoping to stretch their nine-game unbeaten run and also end the 2020-21 campaign on a winning note when they visit Lobi Stars on Thursday.