With the reduction of continental slots from four to two, Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) sides will jostle for the top spot with more seriousness as normal service resumes with matchday 18 fixtures. We will take a look at the top five fixtures of the lot.
5. MFM FC vs Rivers United FC
Last season’s runner up, MFM will host Rivers United on Monday after a heartbreaking trip to Mali which saw them dumped out of the continent in the midweek. The Olukoya Boys are searching for inspiration and will have to seek all of it when the Pride of Rivers visit the Soccer Temple in Agege. Rivers United have found form lately and are fired up to challenge for the title but with MFM looking to restart their season after the abrupt end of the continental distraction, they are likely to leave Lagos emptyhanded.
Prediction: MFM 2-1 Rivers
4. Kwara United vs Go Round FC
In a relegation battle of the new boys, A resurgent Kwara United led by Abubakar Bala have moved off the foot of the table but are still in the relegation zone. Go Round, like their opponents, are finding life in the NPFL very difficult and are a point and a place below their hosts but have been impressive and unlucky with results. The survival of both teams remains to be seen
Prediction: Kwara 1-0 Go Round
3. Katsina United vs Elkanemi Warriors
After thumping the new basement boys, Heartland FC 3-0 in Maiduguri, the Borno Army will travel to Katsina in an all northern affair. Katsina United have won all but one match at home this season and are favorites to win this but with the fear of relegation and possible sack hanging over the head of former title winning Coach Imama, Elkanemi may likely prove a tough nut to crack.
Prediction: Katsina 2-1 Elkanemi
2. FC IfeanyiUbah vs Rangers International
All oriental derbies this season have been interesting except the last one in Owerri on matchday 16. This oriental derby also promises to serve up some real action when neighbors, Rangers visit Nnewi to face the Anambra Warriors. With Rangers still searching for their first goal in Nnewi and FCIU being unconvincing at home, this cagey affair is likely tilt to any side.
Prediction: FCIU 1-0 Rangers
1. Lobi Stars vs Kano Pillars
A clash between two of the three top teams in the NPFL this season is one that promises to be mouth watering especially with both teams riding on form. Lobi Stars have held on to the summit of the table much to the surprise of everyone and their visitors too are buoyed by the presence of free scoring Junior Lokosa. The Aper Aku stadium in Makurdi have seen only one team escape with a point this season and all others leaving empty handed. Pillars have proven to be a good side so far but Lobi are hopeful they can stop their visitors.
Prediction: Lobi 1-1 Pillars
NPFL Matchday 18 Fixtures
Sunday 22nd April
Nasarawa Utd vs Abia Warriors
Katsina Utd vs El-Kanemi Warriors.
Heartland vs Plateau United
Lobi Stars vs Kano Pillars
Akwa Utd vs Sunshine Stars
Wikki Tourists vs Enyimba Int’l
FC Ifeanyiubah vs Rangers Int’l
Kwara Utd vs Go Round
Niger Tornadoes vs Yobe D. Stars
Monday 23rd April
MFM FC vs Rivers Utd