NPFL predictions: The Predictor vs Enitan Obadina

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The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) reaches its halfway this season and it affords the clubs to make changes to their playing personnel.

At the same time, there are still aspirations for points to ease worries and push for places at the top of the pile. This Sunday presents a super clash between seven-time winners Enyimba and Cup holders Akwa United in the port city of Calabar.

The Predictor picks the Enyimba versus Akwa United as the game of the matchweek. He says: “It’s big game though Akwa United have never won the league title, but the rivalry between the two teams are well-documented.”

This matchweek, The Predictor takes on Enitan Obadina, who has a soft spot for second tier side 3SC. This week’s guest is a multimedia sports journalist with Mastersports International Limited and has a bias for Nigerian football including the local league which he has covered for over a decade. Obadina also anchors radio and TV sports show across the country.

All 10 matches for this gameweek will hold this Sunday with the signature tie — Enyimba versus Akwa United live on NTA from 4pm.

SUNDAY

ABIA WARRIORS vs RIVERS UNITED

The problem with Abia Warriors this term is that they have been over-reliant on Samson Obi and Ndifreke Effiong for goals, may be they need Sunday Adetunji to make a return to ease the pair of the weight of expectation. They face a well-oiled Rivers United who have impressed me in recent days.

United have not found joy in Umuahia in all of their previous trips, and despite their fine form, I am not sure Stanley Eguma’s men will avoid defeat at their fifth attempt at Abia Warriors.

The Predictor’s prediction: 2-0

Obadina’s prediction: Abia Warriors have drawn four of their last five matches while Rivers United seem to have turned the corner since the win away at Kwara United although they lack consistency. I expect a draw. 1-1

EL-KANEMI WARRIORS vs NASARAWA UNITED

Whenever I look at Nasarawa United on the log, and it shows they are the only side with double digits of defeats going into this matchday, this only points to their dreadful away form this season. They have lost all nine matches on the road and going to Maiduguri offers little hope.

Well, I do not also think El-Kanemi are the same team like last season though they still have the bulk of players from that setup. Just may be the players are yet to key into Imama Amapakabo’s style just yet though they brushed aside Heartland 3-0 in their last home match. However I still go for El-Kanemi to claim the full points.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Obadina’s prediction: Nasarawa United are bad travellers so far this season and I don’t expect any change to that status this weekend against El-Kanemi. Maiduguri is no longer a fortress but should be strong enough for a win from Imama and his warriors. 2-0

PLATEAU UNITED vs KATSINA UNITED

In spite of their disappointing show in Africa, I still think the title-holders will play themselves back into contention. They have got themselves a decent setup but Africa was just too much of an ask. Tosin Omoyele is back to scoring ways again and that should give Katsina United concern.

Looking for a side full of surprises this season. Katsina United fit that bill. They have the playing personnel to make the champions work for this game — the like of Destiny Ashadi, Martins Usule, Usman Barau, Tasiu Lawal, Sani Faisal and Eric Dufegha. But the champions will triumph in this one.

The Predictor’s prediction: 2-0

Obadina’s prediction: Katsina United is one of the surprise teams of the season, currently second on the log but getting any point from Plateau United is a bridge too far as the defending champions are now focused without continental distraction. Expect Omoyele and co to run them out of Jos. 3-1

KANO PILLARS vs HEARTLAND

I am sure on the list of relegation for most pundits will be Heartland. They have played themselves into trouble after their fans beat up referee Yusuf Garba in Monday’s game against Plateau United leading to a three-point deduction. So they start this game in bottom place, and with just a win in their last nine outings, I do not think they stand a chance in Kano.

I know Heartland have been some sort of difficult nut to crack for Pillars but not this time considering their workforce. The Kano club look like serious heavyweights for the title this term, and I won’t be surprise if this produces a big margin win.

The Predictor’s prediction: 3-0

Obadina’s prediction: These are not the best of times for Heartland currently battling with relegation and expected hammer for the crowd troubles. Kano Pillars are not about to let them have any relief. For Pillars, 2-0 is their favourite result at home — four of their seven wins at home have ended that way. 2-0

SUNSHINE STARS vs LOBI STARS

Sunshine Stars are just looking over their shoulders in the bottom half of the standings. I know in recent seasons, Lobi have been tough as nails whenever they come up against Sunshine Stars. So the like of Sikiru Alimi, Dayo Ojo and co will have to knuckle it down and push for a result to ease things for the Akure club.

I wonder the kind of reception Lobi head coach Solomon Ogbeide and his striker Samad Kadiri will get in Akure, though it has become a less hostile venue these days. I expect it to be warm for them anyway. Lobi are already girding themselves up to challenge for the title with rest of the field just realizing this. I expect this to be a really tight contest.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Obadina’s prediction: League leaders Lobi Stars are having a season to remember, leading with a match to spare and their opponents this weekend, Sunshine Stars are gradually bouncing back to form at home. Tough call but expect a draw. 2-2

ENYIMBA vs AKWA UNITED

Monster game. Super clash. Big match. Call it whatever, I just hope this matchup will live up to its pre-match hype, and not become bogged down to battle of wits from the dugouts. Enyimba have been mean defensively and that is something I expect Paul Aigbogun to continue with his team against the more expressive Akwa United.

The Cup holders in recent weeks have been a pale shadow of themselves after an impressive early season outing. They were full of zip but now all of that vigour is missing. I know a number of their fans are not impressed with their recent form and facing Enyimba on the back of five defeats on the road in all competitions offers little hope.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Obadina’s prediction: High profile game and difficult to call with both sides strong contenders but Akwa’s away form is nothing to write home about with a single point from FC Ifeanyiubah and Calabar is not a place for the faint-hearted. 2-1

Photo: LMC Media

ENUGU RANGERS vs WIKKI TOURISTS

Seven-time winners Rangers have not won in their last four matches, and that I am sure will put them under a bit of pressure against Wikki. The Flying Antelopes will really have themselves to blame if they fail to see off Wikki who have still not taken a point on the road. Wikki have not also beaten Rangers in a league game in 1,092 (calendar) days since a 4-2 win on May 3, 2015. Well I am not sure that will end this time.

The Predictor’s prediction: 2-1

Obadina’s prediction: Rangers at home is unpredictable and Wikki only gets going at home so expect Rangers to nick this one. 1-0.

GO ROUND vs FC IFEANYIUBAH

Times have truly changed. Just less than two years ago, FC Ifeanyiubah were hogging all the big-names in the country and earned rave reviews as the moneybags but all that klieglight is now beamed elsewhere. Anyway that is a story I will tell for another as they head to the Lion’s Den as Krisdera Hotel Stadium is now called by Go Round.

Go Round at least should be buoyed by their first away point at Kwara United though that was followed by a 2-0 reverse at Enyimba. So ‘Dare The Lion’ will face another southeast side having won just one against teams from that part — the 1-0 success over Abia Warriors. The Anambra Warriors will earn themselves a result in Omoku.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-2

Obadina’s prediction: This is expected to be a close game between two teams separated by only three points. New boys Go Round will likely share the spoils in this one. 1-1

YOBE DESERT STARS vs KWARA UNITED

I am sure Abubakar Bala and his men will be kicking themselves for dropping points in back-to-back home games as such is the nature of this top division. So they journey to Damaturu where Yobe Stars have only failed to win once — the 1-1 draw with Enyimba. I know Bala and his men can turn the tables despite the influence of Chinedu Ohanachom, Philip Asuquo, Ali Aliyu and Chidiebere Ajoku at Yobe Stars.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-1

Obadina’s prediction: Kwara’s unbeaten run ended in midweek at Plateau United and now they have to start all over again and this time against mid-table side, Yobe dessert stars. Yobe has got a formidable home form in their debut season. 2-1

 

Photo: LMC Media

NIGER TORNADOES vs MFM FC

The biggest worry for MFM is always their away form but in midweek they showed an improvement at Rangers and earned a 0-0 draw though I feel they deserved to have won that game. Youngster Nojeem Akinyemi was monsterous and Fidelis Ilechukwu’s faith in some of the club’s youngsters could some day pay off.

But against a brutish backline of Tornadoes, Ilechukwu’s men will be in for some very tough tackling this Sunday afternoon. Apart from Katsina United who have surprised me, Tornadoes under Hamza Abara have been impressive and are now aiming for their ninth unbeaten game. Who MFM stop that streak? I won’t put a kobo on it.

The Predictor’s prediction: 1-0

Obadina’s prediction: MFM’s away form turned a corner in the rescheduled league game against Rangers but that may not be enough to re-enact such form against Tornadoes who are unbeaten in eight matches. 2-0

• Last matchday, The Predictor edged his guest Oluwatosin ‘Oba’ Adeniji by 8 to 6 points. Adeniji got SIX correct results without a perfect score while The Predictor got FIVE correct outcomes including THREE exact scores (which attracts two points each).

© The Predictor NG

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