Nigeria’s elite league, the Nigeria Professional Football League enters Matchday 22 this weekend with some tantalising fixtures in store to thrill spectators and viewers at home.
This Sunday, table toppers Plateau United are guests to seven time league champions Enyimba International while there will be a South Western derby in Ibadan where beleaguered Shooting Stars will file out against Sunshine Stars with three points and bragging rights at stake amongst other Matchday 22 fixtures.
Naijafootballplus previews five matchday 22 fixtures set to take centre stage this weekend.
MFM FC (4th) Vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah (3rd)
Cracks are beginning to appear in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Football Club’s title challenge as the Yahweh boys have now gone three matches without a victory. Still without the duo of Sikiru Olatunbosun and NPFL topscorer Stephen Odey who are still on duty with the Super Eagles, MFM will welcome the league’s most in-form team – FC Ifeanyi Ubah to the Soccer Temple with lots of questions asked about the side.
Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu must be wary of an Anambra Warriors side finding form under Ghanaian tactician Yaw Preko after a not too impressive start to the season.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah striker, Godwin Obaje who has scored four goals in the last two league matches is in the form of his life at the moment and proving last season’s NPFL top goalscorer gong he won was no fluke. The ex-Wikki Tourist striker have struck a good understanding lately with King Osanga and Seka Pascal with the trio primed to cause MFM problems this weekend.
The first meeting between both sides earlier this season saw FC Ifeanyi Ubah thrashed MFM FC 4-0 in Anambra handing the Lagos-based side their joint worst defeat of the season (they also lost 4-0 away at Nasarawa United).
Enyimba (9th) Vs Plateau United (1st)
Still bitter from last weekend’s narrow 0-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Sunshine Stars when their own profligacy contributed to them leaving Akure empty handed, Enyimba International will look to correct their mistakes when league-leaders Plateau United come to town.
The Peoples Elephant have won their last four home matches since that 2-0 victory against FC Ifeanyi Ubah in March and will hope to slow down the leaders from pulling away from the chasing pack thereby closing the gap on the sides above them with victory.
Plateau United are fast becoming a force to reckon with in the NPFL this season and are proving critics who expected the wheels to come off, wrong.
Write the side from Jos at your own peril. Of all 20 clubs in the NPFL this season, Plateau United have picked up the most points on their travels (8pts) and have conceded the least number of goals too (9). Kennedy Boboye’s lads will see an Enyimba side who have dropped four points at the U.J Esuene stadium in Calabar as a good opportunity to send out a message to the other nineteen clubs that they don’t intend to lose top position without a fight.
Shooting Stars (19th) Vs Sunshine Stars (14th)
Relegation alarm bells have started ringing for Fatai Amoo’s Shooting Stars, back-to-back 3-0 defeats against FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Lobi Stars have left the Oluyole Warriors in disarray and in need of 5pts to get out of the relegation zone.
More worryingly though for 3SC is their inability to close out games at home where they looked strongest last season winning seven at this stage of the season as compared to five wins at the Lekan Salami stadium this season.
Meanwhile Sunshine Stars on their part are beginning to look like a rejuvenated team under new Technical Adviser, Austin Eguavoen after a topsy-turvy start to the season. Home wins against Rangers in a rescheduled fixture and Enyimba last weekend has seen them climb out of the relegation zone but only just.
Sunshine Stars won the meeting between these two clubs 1-0 on matchday 2. Shooting will hope to prevent the Akure Gunners from doing the double over them this season but instead hope for a repeat of last season’s 2-1 victory against their South Western neighbours.
Form they say counts for nothing in derbies and this hopefully will be no different
Wikki Tourists (18th) Vs ElKanemi Warriors (2nd)
Another derby this weekend in the NPFL between two Northern teams at different ends of the table.
Despite their 3-0 decimation of Abia Warriors when the NPFL resumed a fortnight ago, Wikki Tourists fell back on their knees last weekend losing 0-2 to Nasarawa United and will be odds-on favourite to win this battle against high flying ElKanemi Warriors at home were they have gleaned 24 points .
Flawless at home, unrecognizable away. That has been the story of ElKanemi Warriors season. The Borno Army have relied heavily on their home form which has seen them surge to 2nd position but are yet to draw a game home or away.
Remo Stars (20th) Vs Gombe United (16th)
This fixture pits two newly promoted sides and sure looks like a relegation six-pointer without a doubt.
Remo Stars need no reminder of what they need to do to get out of the rot in which they currently find themselves in. Five consecutive 1-0 defeats for the sky blues makes this fixture all the more important as it provides a good opportunity to buck that trend. But if they must, talismanic captain Victor Mboama needs to find his scoring boots again.
Gombe United head into this tie smarting from last weekends 1-0 home win against fellow promoted side Katsina United. This match presents a chance for Gombe United to get their first away win of the season though it won’t be easy.
Gombe United won the first ever meeting between these two sides 2-1 early in the season.
Matchday 22 Fixtures:
Kano Pillars Vs Lobi Stars
ABS FC Vs Niger Tornadoes
Katsina United Vs Abia Warriors
Rangers International Vs Nasarawa United
Enyimba International Vs Plateau United
MFM FC Vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Shooting Stars Vs Sunshine Stars
Remo Stars Vs Gombe United
Wikki Tourists Vs ElKanemi Warriors