Matchday 25 of the NPFL takes centre stage this weekend with a game on Friday signalling the commencement of hostilities amongst the 20 top flight clubs in Nigeria.
Lobi Stars and Rivers United will get the weekend fixtures started on Friday due to United’s upcoming midweek CAF Confederation Cup clash with Ugandan side Kampala City Council Authority FC. The match round also sees a reunion between Plateau United coach, Kennedy Boboye and his old side Abia Warriors in Umuahia amongst other fixtures in store for NPFL fans to savour. Naijafootballplus.com selects five matches that fans should keep their eye on bordering on the significance of the games.
Sunshine Stars (17th) Vs Gombe United (18th)
There seem to be no light at the end of the tunnel for embattled Sunshine Stars at the moment. After sacking previous head coach, Kayode Olujohungbe, ex-Super Eagles coach Austin Eguavoen stepped in hope of steadying a sinking ship. Well, he’s gone now and the club has been banished from playing their football in Akure to Ijebu-Ode for the foreseeable future as fallouts from the unsavoury scenes that greeted their 1-2 home defeat by Plateau United on matchday 23.
With just one win in their last five NPFL matches, the Owena waves are in the relegation zone, three points adrift of safety. They face fellow relegation threatened Gombe United without suspended goalkeeper, David Ariyo who is banned for 12 matches after being found guilty of assaulting a Referee on Matchday 23.
Gombe United themselves aren’t a side brimming with lots of confidence posing a similar run of results with Sunshine Stars – Win 1, Drawn 1 and lost 3. It will be interesting to see how they react after last weekend’s morale demoralising 1-5 defeat in Jos.
Kano Pillars (10th) Vs MFM FC (2nd)
Kano Pillars will hope to record back-to-back league victories for the second time this season when they file out against second placed MFM FC at the Sani Abacha stadium.
Recent home wins against; Niger Tornadoes, Lobi Stars and Sunshine Stars have somewhat brought back the feel-good factor to Kano and they’ll hope to add MFM to the list of teams who found no luck on their home turf.
At home they are near flawless, away from home they concede like a basket that can’t hold water. Can MFM buck that trend in Kano? That’s the question the Yahweh boys need to answer. MFM have conceded a staggering 12 goals in their last four away matches [an average of 3 goals per match], a worrying statistic for anyone affiliated to the club.
The first meeting between both sides earlier this season ended 1-0 in favour of MFM. Kano Pillars won the corresponding fixture in Kano last season by a lone goal.
Abia Warriors (12th) Vs Plateau United (1st)
Defeat in the Abia derby last time out ensured Abia Warriors are without a win in three matches. That run may continue against Plateau United on Sunday. The Umuahia based club will hope to prevent the league leaders from doing a double over them after the first meeting finished 1-2 in favour of Plateau United.
Plateau United are running away with the league at moment and it will take something special for them to be knocked off their perch. They are difficult to break down and in Itodo they have a weapon opposition sides find difficult to stop.
Last weekend’s’ 5-1 drubbing of Gombe United shows they are not shy of scoring goals with 36 in total already, seven more than FC Ifeanyi Ubah.
The game sees a return of Kennedy Boboye who was coach of Abia Warriors until he was sacked midway through last season. Now in charge of Plateau United there will be no love lost between Boboye and the Abia Warriors’ faithfuls.
Nasarawa United (9th) Vs Enyimba (3rd)
After a slow start to the league season, Nasarawa United are looking like a side capable of challenging for the continental positions. They’ll look to close the gap on the sides above them starting with a win against 3rd placed Enyimba International who won this fixture 2-1 on Matchday 5.
Last weekend’s surprise defeat at basement boys, Remo Stars halted a good run of results that saw Nasarawa United defeat Katsina United and Wikki Tourists at home, with a creditable 1-1 draw at Rangers sandwiched in between.
Enyimba themselves have hit a purple patch recently. The People’s Elephant have lost just one game in their last six. A 0-1 defeat at Sunshine Stars which they could have easily won save for some poor finishing.
Nasarawa United must be wary of Enyimba striker Mfon Udoh who got into double figures in terms of goals scored with a brace in the Abia derby last matchday. The Enyimba captain who has eleven goals to his name is barring down on NPFL top-scorer with 14 goals, Stephen Odey.
El-Kanemi Warriors (5th) Vs Remo Stars (19th)
Off the bottom of the table and back in the winning trail is Remo Stars but they face a daunting task of upsetting El-Kanemi Warriors in Maiduguri, a feat no team in the NPFL has done.
El-Kanemi Warriors saw their run of consecutive home wins come to an end the last time they were at home. A 1-1 draw against Rangers in which they had to dig deep to draw level having trailed for the most past of the match.
With games against fellow league contenders Plateau United and Enyimba on the horizon, the Borno Army can’t afford to drop points against the newly promoted Remo Stars.
Matchday 25 Fixtures:
Lobi Stars Vs Rivers United (Friday)
ElKanemi Warriors Vs Remo Stars
Abia Warriors Vs Plateau United
Sunshine Stars Vs Gombe United
Kano Pillars Vs MFM FC
FC Ifeanyi Ubah Vs Wikki Tourists
Shooting Stars Vs ABS FC
Niger Tornadoes Vs Rangers International
Nasarawa United Vs Enyimba International
Akwa United Vs Katsina United