Akwa United opened the weekend for us with a rather routine 2-1 win over Lobi Stars in the first Nigeria Professional Football League Match Day 36 for the weekend. The Old Uyo Stadium hosted Friday afternoon’s encounter which further enhanced the Promise Keepers’ quest to finish 3rd.
Nine more games will be on offer on Sunday as more teams take their destinies in their own hands. Plateau United can wrap up the title on Sunday with a victory in their home game while Gombe United can join Remo Stars in the lower division if they fail to achieve same result.
Here is our comprehensive Preview for this weekend’s action.
Remo Stars (20) vs Rangers (10)
Relegated Remo Stars still have a say in who goes down to the Nigeria National League as their last three games are against teams who are mathematically not safe from the dreaded zone. They host mid table Rangers who are just 3 points clear of the relegation zone on Sunday. Defeat for the Silvanus Okpalla’s men will leave the Flying Antelopes’ hopes hanging dangerously by a thread.
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Enyimba Int’l (4) vs Wikki Tourists (15)
Enyimba a mild attacking crisis as they host endangered Wikki Tourists in Calabar. Added to the suspension of striker Ibrahim Mustapha for five yellow cards, captain Mfon Udoh and Ugochukwu Leonard are still nursing varying degrees of injuries but the Elephants’ depth means they will choose from either Chinonso Okonkwo or Stephen Chukwude.
Enyimba are aware of Akwa United’s result on Friday and must match their result to keep the race for 3rd spot going. Wikki Tourists however can stay afloat for another weekend even with a loss, provided ABS and Shooting Stars do not record incredible results away from home.
Plateau United (1) vs Rivers United (11)
Hosts Plateau can wrap up the title this weekend with a win over Rivers United. The Peace Boys’ healthy +23 goals difference means a win over Stanley Eguma’s men and defeat for MFM at Abia Warriors will require an unprecedented sequence of results for them to be caught with two games left.
Boboye played for Rivers United (then Dolphins) as a player and will look to compound his former team’s regulation worries while sealing his side’s first league title in 45 years.
Gombe United (19) vs ABS (18)
Manu Garba’s United are six points adrift of ABS on the log and have widely been tipped by bookmakers as “sure to drop” at the end of the season.
ABS have mounted some strong late challenge to avoid the drop in recent weeks including last weekend’s win over Plateau United. Sunday’s game in Gombe is one they must look to get something from – effectively ending their hosts’ hopes of staying up – if they indeed want to remain with the big boys.
Abia Warriors (14) vs MFM (2)
The Warriors continue life without striker Sunday Adetunji as well as their fight against relegation. They remain a single point above the red zone as they host MFM who still harbour hopes of catching league leaders Plateau.
MFM will be without two unsung heroes in their side, Shola Brossa and their match winner last match day, Monsuru Bashiru who are out due to card suspensions. This means coach Fidelis Ilechukwu may revert to a 4-man backline after successfully doing the 3-4-3 in recent games. The Church Boys will however welcome back CHAN Eagles duo of Sikiru Olatunbosun and league’s topscorer Stephen Odey.
Nasarawa United (8) vs Kano Pillars (7)
United will be without their suspended captain Emmanuel Makama for the visit of Kano Pillars in Lafia. Pillars who were eliminated from Nigeria’s Cup competition AITEO Cup in midweek will also be without midfielder Mohammed Jiya for same reason.
Both teams only have mathematical but unrealistic chances of catching up on 3rd place but the fight for pride means whoever takes Sunday’s game will enjoy at least one week of staying ahead of the other.
El-Kanemi Warriors (6) vs Shooting Stars (17)
Two ancient Warriors will come face to face on the Maiduguri surface when El-Kanemi slug it out with Oluyole with different ambitions on their plates. El-Kanemi have rode on an impressive home record to give themselves hopes of getting a continental berth but Shooting Stars are looking dangerously poised for a demotion to the lower league.
El-Kanemi will be without versatile defender Chibuzor Okonkwo who misses the game after he was sent off at Lobi Stars while striker Bala Yahuza is serving an in-house suspension. Failure for 3SC on Sunday will plunge them further in the deep relegation waters with two games to spare.
Niger Tornadoes (13) vs FC Ifeanyiubah (5)
Tornadoes are ending the season the way they have in the past two seasons, hovering over troubled waters. They stay two points atop the red zone and welcome an Ifeanyiubah side ready to fight till the end for the final continental ticket.
Ifeanyiubah will welcome back Super Eagles defender Stephen Eze from national team duties but it is unlikely that goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa will play a part in the game having been invited for Nigeria’s games against Cameroon.
Katsina United (16) vs Sunshine Stars (12)
This is a proper relegation 6-pointer. Hosts Kastina United begin their series of two home games in a row, knowing that victory in both games is capable of guaranteeing their top flight status. They face a Sunshine team with just two points above them on the table so the first incentive for Sunday’s game will be to leapfrog Duke Udi’s men.
Bauldwin Bazuaye’s United will be without the dependable Timothy Danladi who will miss their next two games for amassing 10 yellow cards all through the season while Sunshine attacker Ajibola Otegbeye misses Sunday’s game due to card suspension as well.