A total number of 22 teams have arrived in Benin City for the 2024 phase one of the Ardova Handball Premier League which begins on Monday (today).

The top tier league, the biggest handball event in Nigeria, was initially scheduled for April 28 to May 11 but was shifted to afford the participating teams adequate time to complete registrations and effective preparation in tandem with the sponsor Ardova Plc.

All the 22 teams (12 male teams and 10 female teams) taking part in the handball league, which is in its seventh season, arrived in the ancient city of Benin on Sunday where they held a technical meeting ahead of the league that commences today.

“All the teams arrived in Benin today (Sunday), Cosmos Chukwuemeka, HFN media assistant, said.

“A total of 22 teams comprising of 12 male teams and 10 female teams arrived the city in the morning ahead of the league that will begin on Monday.”

The games will be held at the indoor sports hall of the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium and the Etete sports hall.

Defending champion in the male category Niger United, whose historical prowess in handball was revived under coach Yekini Adebayo which saw them win their first league title last season since 2018, will begin the defense of their title against Benue Buffaloes while Tojemarine Academy under the tutelage of coach Shittu Agboola will want to aim for the title after finishing second last season and the first huddle for them is against newcomer Adamawa United.

Three-time champion Kano Pillars will play Correction Boys as coach Solomon Yola’s team seeks to revive the team after a horrendous campaign last season which saw them finish outside of the podium for the first time in the history of the league while former champion Safety Shooters will welcome Sunshine Kings back to the league as they lock horns.

Confluence Stars will play the Rima Strikers while Lagos Seasider Boys will play De Defenders.

In the female category, defending champion Safety Babes, who haven’t lost a match in the league since the year 2022 and went unbeaten as they won the title last season, will hope to continue their winning streak as they play newly promoted COAS Babes of the Nigeria Army while it will be a game of experience and grit as Defender Babes and Imo Grasshoppers go at each other.

Newly promoted Rivers Queens, who are the champion of the National Division One League 2023, will be making their debut in the Ardova Handball Premier League 2024 with a tough test against Rima Queens, while Bendel Dynamos, with the backing of the fans, will play Seasider Babes of Lagos.

Delta Queens will face coach Yusuf Abdukadir’s Plateau Peacocks who won the league in 2018.

All matches will be streamed live on HFN TV on Facebook and the YouTube page of the Handball Federation of Nigeria while there will be live updates on the X, Instagram and TikTok pages of the federation.