Nigeria Professional Football League action returns this weekend with a Saturday match that will see Dakkada play Kwara United at The Nest of Champions.
Plateau United lead the pack with 36 points after a 2-0 win over Dakkada last week but as Aniekeme Unyah explains, the Jos club could lose top spot on Sunday.
Here are the previews of this weekend’s fixtures.
Dakkada FC vs Kwara United
Matchday 21 action begins in Uyo on Saturday when Dakkada FC welcome Kwara United. The NPFL new boys will be looking to halt their slump in form. A three-game winless streak has pushed Caleb Esu’s men down from fourth place to seventh.
Kwara United will head into the game with confidence, having beaten Dakkada’s neighbours Akwa United at the same venue in January. Dakkada must have learnt something from Akwa’s loss to the Ilorin side, and will avoid complacency against the 15th-placed side.
Verdict: Dakkada win or draw
Lobi Stars vs Plateau United
Lobi Stars host Plateau United in a top-of-the-table clash at Sper Aku Stadium on Sunday. Gbenga Ogunbote’s side can overtake the leaders if they win the game. A draw will put the north-central clubs level on points.
The Makurdi team will be aiming to bounce back from a humiliating defeat at Wikki Tourists, and take revenge against Abdu Maikaba’s team, who inflicted a 3-1 defeat on them on opening day.
Coach Abdu Maikaba, on the other hand, knows exactly what three points in Markudi would do to his title ambitions.
Verdict: Plateau or Lobi win
Adamawa United vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah
It looks like a relatively easy ride for FC Ifeanyi Ubah, given the struggles of the hosts, who have picked up just 17 points from a possible 30 at home. Though they pipped Heartland 1-0 last time out in Yola, many do not favour them to win the tie. The northeast club are clearly one of the elected candidates for relegation, except for some sort of miracle.
Ifeanyi Ubah — though poor travellers, having picked up just one point away from home — will seize the opportunity to move up the table.
Verdict: FC Ifeanyi Ubah wins or draw
Jigawa Golden Stars vs Wikki Tourists
Jigawa Golden Stars continue their fight for survival in the top flight as they welcome their neighbours, Wikki Tourists. They’ve gathered a total 20 points from 20 games so far this season and 18th on the log. Three points from this fixture may boost their confidence of surviving in the top flight.
Meanwhile, Wikki who started well early in the season has slummed to 13th position.
Last week, they trash second-placed Lobi 4-0 at home and will be hoping to ride on that confidence as they travel to Jigawa.
Wikki’s only victory away from home this season was three months ago in Lafia, courtesy of Cameroonian Sixtus Forsah’s 80 minute strike against Nasarawa United.
Jigawa have been held twice at home this season, while Wikki tourists have held its oppponent thrice on the road.
Verdict: Draw or Wikki Tourist wins
Katsina United vs Abia Warriors
Katsina United play host to Abia Warriors in a mid-table clash. The hosts are three points better than their guest and will be looking to increase the gap. With both teams looking to have settled in their traditional position, Katsina United seem to have a bit of advantage going into this. Three points can see the host move three places to the eight position if results from other centers go their way.
Meanwhile, Abia Warriors will be looking to bounce back from that embarrassing 4-1 home defeat by Enyimba. They sit 14th, just four points above the relegation zone and anything less than three points will be a disappointment.
Verdict: Katsina United wins
Sunshine Stars vs Enugu Rangers
Elsewhere in the southwest city of Akure is a tricky tie involving Sunshine Stars and Rangers. The host will be looking to make their home advantage count as they try breaking into the top three. Maximum points could see them climb to fourth place should Enyimba and Akwa United fail to get good results.
However, Rangers after edging Kano Pillars 1-0 in the mid-week rescheduled game, will be hoping add point(s) on the road.
With the Akure gunners yet to lose before their fans this season, Rangers who are currently on 23 points, will be hoping to end their hosts’ unbeaten home run.
Rivers United vs Kano Pillars
Another big fixture involving two teams with big ambitions. This is another difficult game to predict as any side can grab every available point. Rivers United started a bit slow but have ridden their way back into the top three. The Stanley Eguma led side will be hoping to be the biggest beneficiary of Lobi-Plateau clash, as they look to close up or possibly climb. However, that will not come easily as they face a quality Kano pillars side.
Following their 1-nil loss to Rangers in the mid-week rescheduled game, Musa Gida led side won’t fancy dropping six points in two straight games. Moreover, if the Kano based side still has any ambition of playing continental football next season, then defeat shouldn’t come to their mind on Sunday.
Verdict: Rivers United wins or Draw
Akwa United vs Warri Wolves
Akwa United have been a bit unpredictable so far this season. They started their campaign with a draw with the same opponent when they recorded their first point. The Promise Keepers have dropped a total of 13 points at home, but have gathered the highest number of points away from home. If we should go by the results so far, then victory is not assured for the two-time domestic cup champions.
However, to keep their title chase on track, they need all three points from this game.
Meanwhile, Warri Wolves who sit 17th on the table are very much in need of points to survive in the top flight. A difficult hunting ground this should be for them but determination can hand them a point or even three.
Verdict: Akwa United or Warri Wolves win
MFM vs Heartland
Elsewhere at the Agege Stadium will be MFM playing host to Heartland Football Club. The Olukoya boys will be looking to put their defeat to Pillars in week 20 away, as they go for victory. It’s been a season of mixed fortune for them but will be hoping to make the most out of 18 the ties remaining.
Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu will be returning to his former home for the first time since his departure. Heartland is currently having a fair season so far. They sit eight on the log with 20 points and will be eager to add more.
Verdict: MFM or Heartland win
Nasarawa United vs Enyimba
For Nasarawa United, it may be the wrong time to host the champions who are currently on a five-match winning streak. It’s been a difficult season for the Lafia based club as they currently sit 19th on the table. A win would give them some sort of hope of salvaging their season – anything short of victory will have the misery heaping on them.
Enyimba will be looking to make it six out of six. The champions are in top form as they look to pierce their way into the top three. The spanking of Abia Warriors in Okigwe was followed up with a 2-0 victory against Kwara Unitedin the midweek , moving them to fourth on the table.
They will be hoping to keep this momentum going and inflicting a fourth home defeat on their visitors would be the primary target of the Fatai Osho led Aba Elephants.
Verdict: Draw or Enyimba wins
- Heartland face two-window transfer ban if they fail to pay former players
- Dakkada’s slump continues with Kwara United draw