NPFL newcomers look to make amends on Matchday 2

By George Akpayen


Three of the four promoted sides to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) this season began their campaign on losing note but Matchday 2 will offer the trio of Go Round FC, Kwara United and Yobe Desert Stars the opportunity to put points on the board this Wednesday. Heartland of Owerri were the only newcomer that picked a point on the first day of the season.

Top division newbies Go Round FC play their first home game at their Krisdera Hotel Stadium in Omoku against Aiteo Cup holders Akwa United.

Go Round, nicknamed ‘Dare the lion’, fell 0-1 to Wikki Tourists in their first-ever top-flight game in Jos on Sunday, and will look to rebound. Last season in the second tier, Go Round won all 17 home matches, and will look to continue that intimidating run.

Surely it will be a visit to the Lion’s Den for Akwa United who will hope to live up to their moniker of the Promise Keepers just as they saw off seven-time champions Rangers 2-0 in their first game of the season at the Nest of Champions.

Yobe Stars were 17 minutes away from avoiding defeat at FC Ifeanyiubah on the opening day before they conceded to Gabriel Shola Adeboye’s headed attempt to end their resistance. This midweek they play hosts to Wikki Tourists in a northeast derby at the Damaturu Township Stadium.

Wikki enjoyed a slender 1-0 win over another promoted side Go Round and Bala Nikyu’s men will look to make it two out of two.

After a very disappointing start to the season, Kwara United will aim to pick the pieces when they make the trip to Lagos to face last season’s runners-up MFM who also suffered defeat on Matchday 1.

Kwara United head coach John Obuh believes their 2-0 loss at home to Niger Tornadoes was down to “tactical naivety” on the part of his players. He is confident of eking out results in their next away games starting with MFM.

“We have two away games in Lagos and Nnewi. Who says we cannot win away? In football anything can happen,” Obuh said.

First Oriental Derby

Another promoted side Heartland are involved in a big game against rivals Enyimba in an Oriental Derby. Pundits who have put the playing personnel of Enyimba and Heartland side by side believe the latter look lightweight especially on the back of their 0-0 draw at home to Sunshine Stars.

Enyimba now under Paul Aigbogun will be keen to win their first game of the season after they were held 1-1 at Lobi Stars.

The big boys play at home

Title-holders Plateau United, Rangers and Kano Pillars all play in front of their supporters this Wednesday against Rivers United, Lobi Stars and Nasarawa United respectively. The trio look favourites to win but their opponents will be slippery as banana peels.

Plateau United have already thrown the hat in the ring with that opening day win at Nasarawa United and that should leave Stanley Eguma and his Rivers United a little wary despite their slim 1-0 success over El-Kanemi Warriors at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt on Sunday.

Four-time winners Kano Pillars face Nasarawa United at their Sani Abacha Stadium ground. Pillars will have that feeling of a possible danger going up against Nasarawa United they have only beaten just once in seven league games. Nasarawa United have won five of those seven games including a 2-1 win in Kano to end Pillars’ 12-year unbeaten home run in August 2015.

The champions in 2016, Rangers will look to shake off their 2-0 defeat at Akwa United who brought to an end a run of bad spell against the Enugu club. The Flying Antelopes will play hosts to Lobi Stars who rallied to a 1-1 draw after trailing Enyimba for more than an hour in their Sunday fixture.

Rangers head coach Gbenga Ogunbote has already appealed for patience with his team among their supporters after the loss to Akwa United but will have to hit the ground running in their first home game this season.

The biggest winners on the road on the opening day, Niger Tornadoes go up against FC Ifeanyiubah at the Confluence Stadium while Sunshine Stars and El-Kanemi play at home against Katsina United and Abia Warriors respectively.



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