By Timothy Dehinbo
This weekend sees six games taking place with huge implications at both ends of the table. This is due to the invitational tournament
handed out to an NPFL All Stars cast that consists of key players from sides like Enyimba, MFM, Rangers, Kano Pillars and co which would see the team jet out to Spain on August 8 culminating in the postponement of four fixtures.
They are due to play Valencia CF in a friendly game on August 10, before taking on Malaga on August 12 in the Trofeo Ramon de Carranza. Failure to get past the Andalusians could see them face either Atletico de Madrid or Cadiz C.F. Saturday sees five games taking place, with a solitary game on Sunday. We begin our preview in Maiduguiri
EL-KANEMI WARRIORS VS RIVERS UNITED
Its not looking good for the Maiduguiri Warriors as they have a battle on their hands to escape relegation with nine games to go before the season comes to an end. They’ve been imperious at home, but very abject on the road which was clearly evident in their 3-0 spanking at the hands of Nassarawa United last week Saturday, culminating in their current precarious situation.
This weekend, they take on the league’s third best team, Rivers United. The Port-Hacourt based side were scheduled to take on whipping boys Ikorodu United last week but were halted as a road accident on their way home from Ibadan, venue of their Federeations Cup quarter-finals defeat to Enyimba saw the game postponed. They lost their last league game prior to that, which was a 1-0 defeat to Sunshine Stars FC in Akure. Coach Stanley Eguma will be hoping his boys can bounce back here by getting a result to inject life into their League title bid.
They trail leaders Enugu Rangers by four points, albeit, with two games in hand and a positive result here would put pressure on the leaders and a win will likely move up one place up into 2nd position. The likes of Onoachom and Bata will be seeking to get amongst the goals for the Warriors while the Port-Hacourt based side will be banking on Bernard Ovoke to fire them to victory. It’ll be a very tight game, and Rivers could find it difficult to score as El-Kanemi doesn’t conceede too many goals at home.
They will be banking on Rotimi Sunday to put in a good performance between the sticks. Fancy the home side to nick a slim win here.
PREDICTION: EL-KANEMI WARRIORS 1-0 RIVERS UNITED.
HEARTLAND FC VS NASSARAWA UNITED
The Naze Millionaires are in real trouble as they sit in the relegation zone in 18th position with 30 points in 29 games. Disappointing is an understatement to how poor the Owerri based side have fallen this season. They can hardly buy a win with a solitary victory in their past ten games or so. They need to start accumulating points and has to start with form team, Nassarawa United.
The Solid Miners come into this game on the back of impressive performances in the past month. A succession of successive 3-0 home victories of Sunshine Stars and El-Kanemi Warriors, sandwiched between a 2-2 draw against Ikorodu United and qualification for the semi-finals of the Federations Cup has increased confidence in Abdullahi Biffo’s men which was evident in last week’s game, where Seun Sogbesan, a Nassarawa United Player said they were going to score at least thrice against El-Kanemi Warriors which they ended up doing.
With confidence high amongst the players of Nassarawa, the Naze Millionaires could be set for a frustrating afternoon.
PREDICTION: HEARTLAND FC 0 0 NASSARWA UNITED
SUNSHINE STARS VS NIGER TORNADOES
The Akure Gunners come into this tie on the back of a 2/1 defeat to
Shooting Stars of Ibadan. Their last home game saw them beat Rivers United 1-0. Niger Tornadoes come into this game on the back of a come from behind victory over Abia Warriors. With home advantage very crucial, the home side should win this
PREDICTION: SUNSHINE STARS 2-0 NIGER TORNADOES
ABIA WARRIORS VS AKWA UNITED
What started like a season where Kennedy Boboye’s side could challenge for a continental ticket after their early season form is now turning into something terrible as a spate of poor results has seen the Umuahia based side slide down to the lower echeolons of the table. They’re currently placed 15th on the table and come into this game on the back of successive away defeats.
This weekend’s opponents will be equally tough as they welcome Akwa United to the Umuahia Township Stadium. United come into this game on the back of a fantastic 3-0 win over 2nd placed Wikki Tourists at the Nest Of Champions thanks to inspirational performance from talismanic figures; Fortune Omoniwari and Ubong Friday.
Their last away game saw them lose 3-1 to Warri Wolves after failing to consolidate their early lead. Goals won’t be missing in this game as both sides are very capable of finding the net, and Abia Warriors recent poor form could see Akwa United getting a result here.
PREDICTION: ABIA WARRIORS 2-2 AKWA UNITED.
IKORODU UNITED VS SHOOTING STARS
The last game of the weekend which takes place on Sunday sees basement side Ikorodu United take on fellow strugglers 3SC in a relegation six pointer. The Lagos based side have been plagued by a culmination of inexperienced players, school boy defending and a catalogue of errors which has seen the team on the verge of being mathematically relegated.
Their last game which was at home saw them take the lead twice before having to settle for a 2-2 draw against Nassarawa United. They’re involved in a South West derby of some sort as they welcome 3SC to the Onikan Stadium. 3SC defeated Sunshine Stars 2-1 last week at the Lekan Salami Stadium and Coach Gbenga Ogunbote will be very confident of getting a result this Sunday. It’ll be a very tight game which could end in ta draw, albeit one with goals at both ends of the pitch
IKORODU UNITED 1-1 SHOOTING STARS