Former Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu's pet club, Papilo FC will engage AS Racine of Lagos in the official opening match of the 2016/2017 Nigeria's second-tier league, Nigeria National League, at the Agege Stadium, Lagos today – Friday March 17, 2017, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Papilo FC and AS Racine, funded by a former NFF executive Committee member, Emmanuel Ibru, gained promotion from the third-tier league, Nationwide League One at the end of last season.
Chairman of the Independent Committee of the NNL , Chief Chidi Okenwa Offor, hinted his vision was to deliver a model league in line with the desire of Nigerians to see the domestic football attain global standards.
"It is not an easy task on our hands. We are called upon to rebrand our second tier league, bearing in mind it is the toughest of the three leagues.
"The fact that teams in the Nationwide League One have the ultimate ambition to gain promotion to the NNL and the fact that NNL teams seek to gain promotion to the elite NPFL highlights the toughness of the league.
"Like I said earlier, it is going to be pretty tough. But we must seek the support of Nigerians, the stakeholders, clubs and corporate bodies to succeed in our desire to rebrand the league to global standards," Okenwa said while pleading with clubs, officials, fans, stakeholders and corporate bodies to be patient with his committee.
"Rome was not built in a day. Beautiful and strong houses were erected one block upon another.
"So also, together we can do this for the good of our football.
"All that is needed is the support of everyone.
"We will be guided by the rules and tenets of the game to ensure service delivery based on justice, equity and faireness to all involved and concerned one way or the other, "Offor, who is also chairman of Enugu State Football Association told Completesportsnigeria.com .
In the other opening games slated for Saturday, March 18, across the country, newly formed Nnewi United, owned and funded by former Nigeria Football Association Vice Chairman, Chief Gabriel Chukwuma, will welcome Gateway United of Abeokuta at the Rojenny Stadium, Oba.
Gateway United narrowly missed promotion last season after they were beaten to the group's sole ticket by ABS Ilorin FC.
Relegated Warri Wolves will travel to Aba to keep a date with Abia Comets while another relegated side, Heartland travel to Oleh, where they will confront Delta Force FC.
Insurance of Benin will host My People FC, owned and funded by Prophet TB Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, just as Bayelsa united will welcome Osun United at the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa.
Belgian gaffer, Maurice Cooreman's Ikorodu United will be guests of Federation Cup 2016 giant killers, Crown FC.
In group A, FC Taraba will host Kwara United while Afe Babalola, who acquired the footballing rights and position of Bida Lions will play host to Sokoto United, just as Adamawa United welcome Yobe Desert Stars in the opening fixures.
2016/2017 NNL Week One fixtures
Adamawa United vs Yobe Desert Stars.
Bida Lions (Afe-Babalola) vs Sokoto United.
FC Taraba vs Kwara United.
FC Zamfara vs Kogi United.
FRSC FC vs Kaduna United.
Giwa FC vs Jigawa GS.
Bayelsa United vs Osun United.
Abia Comets vs Warri Wolves.
Akwa Starlets vs Unicem Rovers.
AS Racine vs Papilo FC.
Insurance FC vs My People FC.
Crown FC vs Ikorodu United.
Delta Force vs Heartland FC.
First Bank vs Go Round FC.
Dreams FC (Nnewi United) vs Gateway