The race to the inaugural Naija Super 8 tournament has since kicked off with 41 teams spread across the six geo-political zones in the country seeking for two slots for their zonal playoffs.
However, it is a different race as fans have the power to make this happen through a voting process.
As a result, clubs, regardless of their status in the country have turned to their fans for votes through fan engagement.
It is the first time fans will have the power to decide participation for a tournament in the country and it is already gathering momentum.
Voting started on Monday April 10 and will end on May 10, 2023, results collated by an independent body and announced.
Speaking on a television programme: NaijaMade on DStv monitored by sportbusinessbrand.com, Chief Executive Officer of FlyKite Productions, Jenkins Alumona said: “NaijaSuper8 is designed to bring back the fans who will vote for their teams to make it from the six geo-political zones in the country. It is a fan engagement process.”
Twitter and Facebook are the most popular social media platforms utilized by football clubs in Nigeria. To achieve the goal of playing in this unique tournament, they have deployed creative strategies to woo fans.
Organisers of the tournament have also deployed event specific creative materials to enhance the clubs’ ability to attract fans to vote.
Who will make it to NaijaSuper 8?
It is the not the status of the team that determines eligibility for the tournament, but ability to engage fans. A unique concept clubs are beginning to understand.
sportbusinessbrand.com’s checks reveal only a few top sides nominated have been active in fan engagement to woo fans for votes.
Top sides involved in fan engagement for the NaijaSuper 8 include Enyimba, Remo Stars, Lobi Stars, Kwara United, Akwa United, Nasarawa United, Abia Warriors, Plateau United and Niger Tornadoes.
Still without a Twitter Account, Rangers, will have to depend on their Facebook Page to reach out to fans. Sadly, the Facebook hasn’t done much to boost the club’s quest for a place in the zonal playoffs.
Another team not doing much to grab the attention of their fans is former champions, Kano Pillars. Relegated last term and now campaigning in the second tier league, the club’s Twitter Account and Facebook Page have been inactive.
Unlike Pillars, relegated Heartland, has been active on its Twitter and Facebook platforms.
In the South West zone, the innovate duo of Sporting Lagos and Ikorodu City are grabbing the attention of fans, just like Vandrezzer, in the South South.
Top teams in both zones must work hard not to lose out in this race.
Like the trio of Vandrezzer, Sporting Lagos and Ikorodu City, Abuja based City FC is showing understanding of fan engagement.
If this trend continues, then expect one of Vandrezzer, Sporting Lagos, Ikorodu City and City FC to force their way into the zonal playoffs.
North Central: 7 Clubs
Lobi Stars (Makurdi, Benue State), Plateau United (Jos, Plateau State), Nasarawa United (Lafia, Nasarawa State), Kwara United (Ilorin, Kwara State), Kogi United (Lokoja, Kogi State), City FC (Abuja), Niger Tornadoes (Minna, Niger State).
North East: 6 Clubs
Adamawa United (Yola, Adamawa State), El-Kanemi Warriors (Maiduguri, Borno State), Gombe United (Gombe, Gombe State), Taraba United (Jalingo, Taraba State), Wikki Tourists (Bauchi, Bauchi State), Yobe Desert Stars (Damaturu, Yobe State).
North West: 7 Clubs
Jigawa Golden Stars (Dutse, Jigawa State), Kaduna United (Kaduna, Kaduna State), Kano Pillars (Kano, Kano State), Katsina United (Katsina, Katsina State), Kebbi United (Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State), Sokoto United (Sokoto, Sokoto State), Zamfara United (Gusau, Zamfara State).
South East: 6 Clubs
Enyimba (Aba, Abia State), Cynosure (Abakaliki, Ebonyi State), Edel (Awka, Anambra State), Heartland (Owerri, Imo State), Abia Warriors (Umuahia, Abia State), Rangers (Enugu, Enugu State)
South South: 7 Clubs
Akwa United (Uyo, Akwa Ibom State), Bayelsa United (Yenagoa, Bayelsa State), Bendel Insurance (Benin-City, Edo State), Rivers United (Port-Harcourt, Rivers State), Rovers (Calabar, Cross Rivers State), Vandrezzer (Eket, Akwa Ibom State), Warri Wolves (Warri, Delta State).
South West: 8 Clubs
Shooting Stars Sports Club (Ibadan, Oyo State), Crown (Ogbomosho, Oyo State), Ekiti United (Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State), Ikorodu City (Ikorodu, Lagos State), Remo Stars (Ikenne, Oyo State), Smart City (Surulere, Lagos State), Sporting Lagos (Surulere, Lagos State), Sunshine Stars (Akure, Ondo State).