There will be two oriental derbies and a northern derby when hostilities resume in the Nigeria Professional Football League this weekend for Matchday 12.
A few of these fixtures are of huge importance to participating teams with pride, history and bragging rights all on the line on the quest for the league title. Here are our top five of these fixtures:
5. Lobi Stars v Katsina United
Gradually but very quietly, Solomon Ogbeide is turning Lobi Stars of Makurdi into a formidable side that can challenge the big names for points and pride in the NPFL. The impressive Lobi Stars have managed to overcome a matchday 1 disappointment -a draw at home to Enyimba- to find themselves second on the table and will look to keep their place when Katsina United visits the Aper Aku stadium which is fast turning into a slaughter ground for visiting teams. It is very unlikely for the Chanji boys to leave Makurdi unscathed.
Prediction: Lobi 2-0 Katsina
4. Kwara United v El-Kanemi Warriors
With two places and two points as the difference between the hosts who are firmly rooted at the bottom of the NPFL table and their visitors who are struggling to win points both at home and away from home, this game is one that can tilt either way as both teams are as disappointing as they are unpredictable. 2016 title winning coach, Imama Amapakabo, will see this fixture as one that he can leverage on to move his team off the relegation zone but under-fire Kwara United coach, John Obuh who is seeking redemption, is likely to set his boys for a surprise. The battle for survival can sure be very interesting.
Prediction: Kwara 1-1 El-Kanemi
3. Yobe Desert Stars v Kano Pillars
It was a successful return to an old stomping ground for Babaganaru when his Desert Stars saw off El-Kanemi Warriors at the Sani Abacha stadium, a ground where he stopped Pillars’ streak of results before being appointed as coach. He will face his former employers in Damaturu with the stadium suspension over and will hope his backline who shipped in three in 30 minutes against a low scoring Abia Warriors can stop the hot scoring Junior Lokosa who seems to score at every turn. Pillars are top of the table and rightly so as a result of their impressive results from all grounds visited except one. Can Yobe stop Pillars in Damaturu in all northern derby? All answers you provide might just be right.
Prediction: Yobe 1-0 Pillars
2. FC IfeanyiUbah v Abia Warriors
The lesser of the two oriental derbies on the menu this weekend is just as tasty as any typical oriental derby. Separated but just goal difference, both teams have enjoyed similar results dropping points at home and failing to win points away from home. Both Emmanuel Deutsch and Ladan Bosso are seriously under huge pressure from fans and management respectively and would want to go all out for a result. Nnewi has been a difficult ground for Abia Warriors and their woes are only likely to be compounded.
Prediction: FCIU 2-0 Abia Warriors
1. Rangers International v Enyimba International
A model oriental derby? Check
A clash of the biggest clubs? Check
A perfect advert for the league? Double check. With 14 titles between these two big weights, each having a fair share of the total, no game can boast of the pedigree, pride, bragging rights, quality and competition that will be served. Gbenga Ogunbote will welcome his former employers to his new home and will want to feel missed but with the soft spoken Aigbogun keeping them fourth with just one defeat so far, the People’s Elephants can only prove to their hosts who have a bulk of their former employees that they’re the bigger of the sides. This game is undoubtedly the biggest fixture in the NPFL and can only be rivaled by its reverse fixture.
Prediction: Rangers 1-1 Enyimba
NPFL Matchday 12 Fixtures
Sunday 11th March 2018
Lobi Stars FC vs Katsina United FC
Akwa United FC vs Nasarawa United FC
Wikki Tourists FC vs Rivers United FC
FC Ifeanyiubah vs Abia Warriors FC
Kwara United FC vs El-Kanemi Warriors FC
Niger Tornadoes FC vs Plateau United FC
Yobe Desert Stars FC vs Kano Pillars FC
Go Round FC vs Sunshine Stars FC
Rangers Int’l FC vs Enyimba Int’l FC
MFM FC vs Heartland FC