This NPFL matchday begins with the reverse games of the previous ones but this time nine games are on offer as the Akwa United versus Enyimba fixture is postponed due to the latter’s involvement in CAF Confederation Cup on Sunday.
This gameweek, only the table-toppers Lobi Stars will be at home among the top-three. Kano Pillars and Niger Tornadoes are up for very knotty fixtures at Heartland and MFM FC respectively. The champions Plateau United in fourth place, also play on the road at Katsina United.
The Predictor says: “This represents a big chance for Lobi to further extend their lead at the summit. But Sunshine Stars will not just be there for the taking despite dropping points in the reverse game.”
Also, The Predictor Challenge for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will undergo a change in format from the next matchweek.
RIVERS UNITED vs ABIA WARRIORS
This is a mid-table battle between the two sides. There are always goals whenever these two teams meet. The only time any fixture between them failed to produce goals was a 0-0 draw in Port Harcourt in September 2016. I am sure this is a contest that will have a goal or two in it but I am not expecting a high-scoring outcome.
Abia Warriors have relied on Samson Obi and Ndifreke Effiong for goals all season and I don’t think that will change now despite Sunday Adetunji’s return from a long injury layoff. Rivers United do have depth in their squad but they do not score much — averaging a goal per game. But I tip United to edge this.
My prediction: 1-0
NASARAWA UNITED vs EL-KANEMI WARRIORS
I think Nasarawa United’s five-year status in the division now looks under threat more than ever. They are the only side with defeats in double figures ahead of this matchweek, and that little stats must be a worrying sight for not just their head coach Kabiru Dogo but also their faithful. The Solid Miners have got impressive individuals like Ikechukwu Nwani, Kabir Balogun, Najeem Olukokun and Abubakar Abdullahi in their setup.
El-Kanemi have been quite disappointing this season, in my opinion. That is why I feel they will come under the attacking threat of the players I have mentioned above as their away form has remained abysmal usual. For certain Imama Amapakabo will set up his men to attack and that will suit Nasarawa United’s willing runners.
My prediction: 2-0
KATSINA UNITED vs PLATEAU UNITED
The champions head to Katsina United without some of their key men who are out injured. So I am imagining how Kennedy Boboye will deploy his team — a deep-sitting defence and pacy widemen with a packed midfield to stifle the creativity of Destiny Ashadi. But all of this, I think, still would not stop Katsina United from winning this contest that I expect to be very tight till the end.
My prediction: 2-1
HEARTLAND vs KANO PILLARS
Teams at different ends of the ranking meet at the Dan Anyiam Stadium. Troubled Heartland now know they have a mountain to climb after the League Management Company (LMC) deducted three points off them for crowd violence. So they start this match in bottom place to second-positioned Kano Pillars who would do their bid for a first title since 2014.
It has been all Junior Lokosa this season. He scored twice in the reverse game. I am not sure Heartland’s backline will be able to keep this fox in the box quiet all evening on Sunday. The like of Abiodun Thompson. Nnamdi Egbujor and Lucky Emariojake but this presents Pillars their best chance of a full point on the road.
My prediction: 1-2
LOBI STARS vs SUNSHINE STARS
Sunshine Stars striker Sikiru Alimi (pictured above) has talked of making amends for the spot kick he missed in the first meeting. “This game is an opportunity to make amends. It doesn’t mean I am going to score but I have to give my best and help the team get a result,” said Alimi to thepredictorng.com. Alimi and his teammates know they have to knuckle it down at the Aper Aku Stadium as they sit precariously on the log.
The table-toppers are really in buoyant mood. Things have been bouncy at the Aper Aku in recent matchdays and this matchup should not be an exception. Solomon’s Ogbeide’s team are not full of the big-names in the country but they have in Samad Kadiri, a frisky who can blood things together — showboat, score and being direct. There is last season’s top scorer Tony Okpotu as well Austine Ogunye and veterans Cletus Itodo and David Tyavkase, so Sunshine have a lot on their hands.
My prediction: 1-0
WIKKI TOURISTS vs ENUGU RANGERS
It has been a wretched last five games for Wikki — taking only three points in 15 which has left them in the bottom-four. Their last win was more than a month ago. What a time to also face a club they have not beaten in their last six meetings since a 4-2 win in May.
Gbenga Ogunbote somehow has found a way to make Rangers solid at the back in their last four matches. This Rangers can win anywhere if they want to. They just need to play to their strengths as I am backing them for a result in Jos.
My prediction: 0-1
FC IFEANYIUBAH vs GO ROUND
This game could lead to Go Round showing their head coach Ngozi Elechi the exit door. The new boys in my book stand little chance of leaving Nnewi with a result, not because they are not good enough but I think it will asking too much of them. FC Ifeanyiubah have not been impressive since Ladan Bosso took charge. They have the qualities to overcome Go Round.
My prediction: 1-0
KWARA UNITED vs YOBE DESERT STARS
Abubakar Bala has been superb with his tactics since arriving at Kwara United. Now he is attracting some of the decent players to the Ilorin club who are second from bottom. Against all odds, Bala’s men took a point in the reverse game of this tie, and I am sure he will be sounding it that they kill it off on Sunday.
Yobe Stars are about to be sucked into the relegation fight as I think the Harmony Boys will throw everything into this contest. With Segun Alebiosu and Stephen Alfred possibly pairing up front for Kwara United, Mohammed Baba Ganaru’s men will first need to deal with the pace and guile before fashioning out their own scoring chances.
My prediction: 2-0
MFM FC vs NIGER TORNADOES
Two of the new school coaches come face to face again — MFM’s Fidelis Ilechukwu versus Hamza Abara of Tornadoes. Abara is still caretaker head coach at Tornadoes despite a nine-match unbeaten run, and I think his performance with the team has made his employers hold on to appointing what they consider an experienced manager. Abara and his Tornadoes put their unbeaten sequence on the line at MFM.
MFM have never conceded a goal against Tornadoes at the Agege Stadium. I expect that to continue. MFM have never dropped points against Tornadoes at the Agege Stadium. I don’t expect that to continue.
My prediction: 0-0
• The Predictor lost by a point to last matchday’s guest Enitan Obadina who got NINE points through SEVEN correct results including TWO perfect scores. The Predictor also got SEVEN correct results but had just ONE exact score in that seven.
© The Predictor NG