The Nigeria Professional Football League makes a return today after the Easter festivities with some cracking fixtures scheduled much to the delight of NPFL faithfuls. Leaders, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Football Club are guests of Akwa United, ElKanemi hosts ABS and embattled reigning champions Rangers International will travel to Gombe in a bid to get their faltering season back on track.
Akwa United VS MFM FC
Not many expected Akwa United to come out as victors at the Sani Abacha stadium on matchday 18, the Promise Keepers sent shockwaves with arguably what could be their best result this season with a 0-1 against Kano Pillars.
With the dust still settling, Maikaba and his boys welcome high flying MFM to the nest of champions with three points all to play for. Akwa United are unbeaten at the Godswill Akpabio International stadium this season and will aim they get a third consecutive league win that will close the game on MFM to four points going into the mid-season break.
Meanwhile coach Fidelis Ilechukwu’s MFM FC come into this game on the back of a comfortable 3-0 trouncing of third placed ElKanemi Warriors. The Olukoya boys will square up against a familiar face in midfielder Ifeanyi Ifeanyi who joined Akwa United at the end of last season.
MFM FC are yet to score away from home in their last two away matches but it will be in the defensive department Ilechukwu will be worried about as they have shipped in 5 goals in their last 2 away matches and if they are to end the first stanza of the NPFL as league leaders they need a point or three in this fixture.
Gombe Utd VS Rangers
It’s all going from bad to worse for the champions. With the drama surrounding Coach Imama Amapakabo’s sack at the club still unclear, Rangers were knocked out of the CAF Confederations Cup last Saturday and will return to Nigeria hoping to get their season back on track.
With no further distractions on the continent, the Flying Antelopes are guests at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe on Thursday with noting short of three points the target for Rangers. They’re without a victory in their last seven matches in all competitions and you’d think something has to change.
Gombe United on the other hand, will hope to pile more misery on Rangers capitalising on home comforts having picked 21 of their 22 points in total at home. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.
Niger Tornadoes VS Kano Pillars
Fourth placed Niger Tornadoes will go toe-to-toe with out of form Kano Pillars with the visitors still reeling from the home defeat by Akwa United.
Tornadeos are near flawless at home with seven wins and two draws, they have won their last six home matches scoring 9 goals with just two conceded.
Visitors Kano Pillars are undergoing a bad run at the moment with just one win in 6 matches to their name. Coach Kadiri Ikhana must be worried man and with a stadium closure awaiting his team when they return to the Sani Abacha stadium after the mid-season break they could do with a point against Tornadoes tomorrow to calm frayed nerves. Pillars will be without the services of defender Jamiu Alimi who has joined Akwa United.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah VS Shooting Stars
Ghanaian Coach Yaw Preko of FC Ifeanyi Ubah has been getting the results that evaded the Anambra Warriors when the season started and is gradually showing what patience exercised by Management can do to results.
After starting the season slowly, FC Ifeanyi Ubah are currently the league’s most inform team (they are yet to taste defeat in 5 matches) and will hope to extend that run when Shooting Stars visit the FC Ifeanyi Ubah International stadium on Wednesday. With 17 goals scored at home this season, they lie third with the most goals scored at home (MFM lead with 20 goals, Plateau United are second with 19 goals score).
Buoyed by a 2-1 home victory over Tornadoes , Shooting Stars will hope to gain their first away win at a ground they’ve never won since the NPFL began.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah won this tie 3-1 last season with the visitors drawing 2-2 in the reverse fixture.
Plateau United VS Katsina United
This game presents an opportunity for Plateau United to regain top spot in the NPFL standings if results elsewhere go their way.
After having rested for over two weeks due to their matchday 18 fixture with Rangers postponed, Plateau United will be ready to fire their way to the top when newly promoted Katsina United come to town. With MFM away at Akwa United, a win will see Plateau United regain top spot with an outstanding game to play.
With two draws under their belts away from home this season, Katsina United will have to keep it safe at the back and hope their low-scoring front men shoot them to a surprise result at the Rwang Pam stadium, with the club still near the foot of the table.
All Matchday 19 Fixtures:
Enyimba Vs Remo Stars
Gombe United Vs Rangers International
ElKanemi Warriors Vs ABS FC
Niger Tornadoes Vs Kano Pillars
FC Ifeanyi Ubah Vs Shooting Stars
Lobi Stars Vs Sunshine Stars
Akwa United Vs MFM FC
Abia Warriors Vs Wikki Tourists
Plateau United Vs Katsina United