NPFL predictions: The Predictor vs Yemi ‘Yema’ Olanrewaju

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After 50 games, there have been 94 goals recorded and that stands at 1.88 goal per game ahead of this matchweek which has quite a handful of lively contests on offer.

There is the Abia Derby between Enyimba and Abia Warriors in Calabar. Also, two former champions Enugu Rangers and Rivers United square while table-topping Akwa United face FC Ifeanyiubah.

However my biggest game of this matchday is Kano Pillars versus title holders Plateau United.

For this matchweek, there is also a big matchup as I face former Kwara United, Crown FC and Ocean Boys midfielder Yemi Olanrewaju, nicknamed Yema. I also prefer to call him Yema and it was sad to see his career halted by injury. But he has picked himself up and now works as a coach.

He is at present with Westerlo Football Academy after previously coaching another non-league side Gwarimpa Stars. Yema hopes to climb up the coaching echelons soon. “After my injury I decided to go into coaching to remain in the game. I am giving it my best shot and hopefully will make my mark and reach for the top soon,” he said.

But Yema, who has a soft spot for Kwara United, will have to put his coaching credentials on the line and show how much he knows about the Nigeria Professional Football League (NFPL) this gameweek.

WEDNESDAY

FC IFEANYIUBAH vs AKWA UNITED

Except for that slip in Omoku to Go Round FC, Akwa United are looking like a team that can win games anywhere now. This is always a fiercely contested game. The matchup in the dugout also serves up for an interesting talking point though in recent years Abdu Maikaba is regarded as a more successful coach than his FC Ifeanyiubah counterpart Ladan Bosso.

This is a finely setup game, and with Akwa’s midfielders scoring goals, I find it difficult to see them drop all points. FC Ifeanyiubah have blown hot and cold so far – winning only at home and dropping points on the road. I think this will end in a share of the spoils.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-1

Yema’s prediction: I think with the present form of Akwa United and their away win over Niger Tornadoes in a difficult ground, they will always score goals on the road but FC Ifeanyiubah will snatch this one. 2-1

YOBE DESERT STARS vs KATSINA UNITED

Mohammed Baba Ganaru and his men are really serving up humble pies by the bucket load. They are one of the teams I tipped to struggle from the outset but they have proved me wrong and at the moment the best performing promoted side. Chinedu Ohanachom has come good for them too since leaving Enyimba to team up with Yobe Stars.

Katsina United have only showed their strength at home this term but the like of Destiny Ashadi, Usman Barau, Martins Usule and co will need to raise their game beyond the walls of the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium, something I still doubt they will do at the August 24 Stadium in Damaturu on Wednesday.

The Predictor’s prediction: 2-1

Yema’s prediction: This game will be won from the sidelines by either of the coaches, but I give it to Yobe Stars coach Baba Ganaru. 1-0

ENYIMBA vs ABIA WARRIORS

I still remember how Cletus Itodo’s goal fired Abia Warriors to a 1-0 win in their first meeting in this Abia Derby almost four years ago. Things have since changed though. One of such changes is that this game will hold at the UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar. This season Abia Warriors have started the campaign better than their city rivals who are struggling to score goals.

None of Enyimba’s strikers have scored yet with their goals coming from Chinedu Udeagha and Stanley Dimgba who are midfielders. May be Paul Aigbogun should consider playing with a false nine, just my thought anyway. But I expect Abia Warriors to make Enyimba work their socks off. The People’s Elephant will nick it with the odd margin.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Yema’s prediction: Enyimba vs Abia Warriors. Wow! This is a derby in a neutral ground for both teams. Last season this game ended in Enyimba’s favour. I see Enyimba winning this game. 1-0

SUNSHINE STARS vs EL-KANEMI WARRIORS

Duke Udi with a shoe-string budget has done well with Sunshine Stars. The Owena Waves, should they win, could find themselves in top-three position at the end of this matchweek depending on results elsewhere. Udi’s team do have the quality in attack with the like of Sikiru Alimi, Franklin Sasere, Abiodun Joseph and Yahuza Bala.

El-Kanemi still have that homesickness haunting them whenever they play on the road. They hardly put up a fight in their last away game at Plateau United where they lost 3-0. I think El-Kanemi’s wretched run of no wins will be extended to three this Wednesday.

The Predictor’s prediction: 3-1

Yema’s prediction: I think El-Kanemi is missing the present and influence of their wonder coach (Imama Amapakabo) who is on national assignment with the Super Eagles at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco. Sunshine Stars head coach Udi has proved to be a top manager and I believe this will be a game in which Sunshine Stars won’t have to break sweat for victory. 2-0

KANO PILLARS vs PLATEAU UNITED

This is no doubt the biggest game of this midweek. I am just imagining Junior Lokosa up against Plateau United’s Elisha Golbe. Or speedster Tosin Omoyele taking on the Pillars defence led by defensive leader Chinedu Udoji. This should be a tantalizing contest at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano.

I think this will be a very tight game as Kennedy Boboye has a special way of setting up his team on the road to play smash and grab. All eyes could be on Lokosa but Pillars could have the full points delivered by Nyima Nwagua or even the more skilful Alassan Ibrahim.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Yema’s prediction: This is the match of the week even tougher than Abia derby. Same game last season ended in a draw in Kano but I see Pillars coming out with a victory this time with my in-form friend Lokosa causing Plateau United all sorts of trouble. 2-1

MFM FC vs WIKKI TOURISTS

Another team that have gone under reset is Wikki since Maikaba’s departure. They now play like the Old Wikki that grind out 1-0 wins at home but are blown away on the road. This game is up for the taking by MFM.

The like of Jesse Akila and Sikiru Olatunbosun who has been struggling to find form as well as playmaker Onuwa Chukwuka should make life difficult for the Tourists. An expected win should propel Fidelis Ilechukwu’s men out of the bottom-four.

The Predictor’s prediction: 2-0

Yema’s prediction: The Lagos giants MFM will stroll to victory at Agege Stadium also nicknamed Soccer Temple. 2-1

THURSDAY

KWARA UNITED vs LOBI STARS

I continue to have my fears for Kwara United as they look unprepared for life in the big time. Things are not looking up for them since the start of this campaign on their return to the top-flight. Last season’s top scorer in the second tier Michael Ohanu is also yet to find his feet.

Lobi come into this with so much confidence. One man Samad Kadiri has been directly involved in five of their seven goals [four goals, one assist]. He is sure going to cause Obuh’s men trouble. The Harmony Boys have not shown enough guts as I am tipping Lobi to take a point in this.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-1

Yema’s prediction: This is the toughest one for me because of the love I have for Kwara United but they are facing a great challenge in Lobi. Sentiments aside, I see Lobi coming out with something at the end of the game. 1-1

ENUGU RANGERS vs RIVERS UNITED

Gbenga Ogunbote’s men like their Rivers United opponents are still struggling in these early stages of the season. Ogunbote has done a bit of chop and change, and I expect that from this point he would have settled for his starters, if not 18 required for each matchday though he has injury concerns with Brown Braye Okpus and Tope Olusesi sidelined.

Guy Keumian has shouldered the goalscoring responsibility for United but the Ivorian and his teammates are yet to get a strike on target on the road. That, I think, will not change at the end of this game on Thursday.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Yema’s predictions: Rangers vs Rivers United- Rivers United away from makes this easy for Rangers. I think Rangers are finding their feet and Ogunbote knows his name is at stake with 17 new players he brought. Those guys need to up their games and show the coach why he brought them. Rangers 1- Rivers United 0.

GO ROUND FC vs NASARAWA UNITED

There was outcry about Nasarawa United’s late goal from the spot to edge past Rangers 2-1, but the Solid Miners like I have said in previous matchweeks are late bloomers. They head to the Lion’s Den as the Krisdera Stadium is nicknamed to face ‘Dare The Lion.’

Going into this game, Go Round have got an intimidating record from the second tier – winning all 17 home games and only dropped points in the top division to Heartland this term. Nasarawa United have been poor on the road and they have scored a goal on their travels this term. Odds I think are stacked against them in this game.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Yema’s prediction: It’s going to be a tough one for the newcomers Go Round but I expect them to come out with a slim victory at the end. Having lost woefully at Katsina United, they will want to bounce back to winning ways. 1-0

• For the second matchday, The Predictor falls short. The last guest Edafe Matthew Eseoghene got EIGHT points after calling SIX correct results including TWO exact scores (which earned him two points per exact score). The Predictor also got SIX correct results but only ONE perfect score in that mix to take his total to SEVEN points.

© The Predictor

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