Thursday, March 18, 2010


Sharks v Dolphin

Venue: Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt
Date: Saturday, March 20, 2010
Time: 4.00 pm (Nigerian Time)
When city rivals, Sharks Football Club and Dolphin Football Club, clash this Saturday in the Nigeria Premier League, it would be the third clash between the two sides in the top-flight since 2005. This is no doubt the biggest derby this season between two clubs based in the same city.
Already, Dolphin has dropped two points in the first meeting at the Liberation Stadium when it played host in a one-all draw on October 16, 2009. But Sharks is keen to win this game and finally begin its climb out of the relegation zone.
“It’s been a difficult season for us because we didn’t know that we will be struggling all season like this. But this is a big game (against Dolphin) and we will give our best to win so that we can escape relegation,” Sharks’ skipper, Odinga Odinga told during the week ahead of the Port Harcourt derby.
Before last year’s 1 – 1 draw in the reverse fixture, Dolphin had done the double on its underachieving neighbours in the 2005 season when it won 2 – 0 and 2 – 1 on November 27, 2005 and May 28 same year.
The Blue Angels, as Sharks is nicknamed, has had a terrible season going by its home stats of six wins, three losses, two draws and a 1.64 average goals per game, which is quite contrasting to Dolphin, which has found itself occupying the ninth position on the Premier League log.
But the only lifeline for the Blue Angels in this game is that Dolphin has been poor on the road having lost nine and drawn three without any clean sheets though this might count for nothing in a derby game like this.
Former Golden Eaglets’ player, Omo Ojabu, who has the record of scoring the fastest goal this season, believes that he and his team-mates can inflict a defeat on their counterparts at Sharks on Saturday.
“It is a football game and anything can happen. We are going there (Sharks Stadium) to win and that is our plan,” he simply said.
Sharks’ coach, Imama Amakapabor, would be counting on the goal-scoring form of Ejike Bright and Victor Ezeji to unlock Dolphin, which has been rather too profligate in front of goal this season despite always playing without the hand-gear slammed down.
Stanley Eguma, however, hopes that his team does not forget that the game is all about goals, as it has often done in its away games.
“The key to this game is if we can score goals and keep our opponents at bay, then we can be talking of celebrating back home. But I know it will be a difficult game and we are ready for that challenge,” Eguma told in a telephone interview.
Prediction: 0 – 0
October 16, 2009: Dolphin 1 – 1 Sharks
November 27, 2005:            Sharks 0 – 2 Dolphin
May 28, 2005: Dolphin 2 – 1 Sharks
•The club still has one of its potent strikers, Victor Ezeji, in its fold, as he is yet to move to Enugu Rangers as earlier reported. Seems the former Enyimba man may have had a rethink and decided to stay in Port Harcourt till the end of the season.
•But the club may not have the service of its head coach, John Obuh, in the dugout this weekend since he is believed to have headed to Abuja to plan for the Flying Eagles’ camp after he named a list of 21 players. This means that Imama Amakapabor will take charge.
•It is expected that Bright Ejike will start upfront with Ezeji in this game at the Sharks Stadium while the likes of Ifeanyi Esobe, Okiemute Odah, Odinga Odinga, Friday Nwoga and Nojeem Raji should be in the starting line-up barring any last-minute injuries.
•The club had lost the services of Chibuzor Ozurumba, who has teamed up with his former club, Heartland Football Club.
•For this game, there are no reported cases of injuries in the camp of the Blue Angels ahead of this derby.
•Uche Oguchi was down with a bout of malaria during the week but despite being asked to rest he trained with the team and only the medical crew of the club will determine if he will play on Saturday or not.
•Sunday Mbah suffered a groin strain and did not train with the team on Wednesday. It is still very uncertain if he will play against Sharks on Saturday.
•Captain Emma Godwin, Victor Babayaro and Peter Bangoura received routine training knocks during the week but were able to shake them off and continue with the business they are paid to do.
•Manager, Stanley Eguma had a gift of a birthday present when Dolphins beat Zamfara United 2-1 on his birthday last Sunday. After the match he treated all players and officials of the club to a sumptuous dinner to mark his birthday at the club’s Elekahia camp.
•During the current transfer window, Dolphin has registered seven new players. They are Chidi Osuchukwu (Gateway), Belemo Yabrifa (Sharks), Sunny Wami (Dolphins), Peter Bangoura (Rangers), Bello Osagie (Dynamite FC), Derrick Amadi (Heartland), Achibi Ewenike (Anambra United). Chidi Osuchukwu has already made his debut with the team as a second half substitute against Zamfara United last week.

Gombe Utd v Gateway FC
It is going to be a difficult trip for the Rock City Boys to Gombe especially with a shaky form of 11 losses and just a draw to show for on the road since the start of the current season. Even the players brought in on a rescue mission have found it tough at the Abeokuta club. Gombe United has lost just once at home all season I 12 home games. But Ben Duamlong’s side would seek three points to continue its climb on the league and it does not look like Gateway will stop that since the Abeokuta club looks deflated though it won the first meeting 2 – 1.
Prediction: Gombe Utd 1 – 0 Gateway FC
October 16, 2009: Gateway FC 2 – 1 Gombe United
May 24, 2009: Gombe United 1 – 0 Gateway FC
November 29, 2008:            Gateway FC 1 – 0 Gombe United
September 24, 2005:            Gombe United 2 – 0 Gateway FC
April 15, 2005: Gateway FC 2 – 2 Gombe United

3SC v Sunshine Stars
Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) has the chance of crossing the 30-point mark this season, which could guarantee it safety in the Premier League for next term, if it beats Sunshine Stars. The Akure club is one tough nut to crack this season in the top division with a record of one win, three draws and eight losses in away games. In the first game this season, Sunshine Stars won the clash of Stars in Akure by a lone goal. The reverse game would even be more interesting this Saturday in Ibadan, as Mutiu Adepoju’s men seek to consolidate on last weekend’s goalless draw at Wikki Tourist. But the Oluyole Warriors has often failed to kill off the top teams this season.
Prediction: 0 – 0
October 17, 2009: Sunshine Stars 1 – 0 Shooting Stars

Tornadoes v Bayelsa Utd
Both sides have identical form guide in its last five games with three wins, a draw and a loss. Tornadoes go into this game with a 10-match win at home with two draws and an average goals’ per game of 1.67. How Bayelsa United would cope with Tornadoes’ record looks difficult with its stuttering record of nine away losses, two draws and a poor scoring average of 0.27 goals per game on the road. Tornadoes would be kicking itself if it fails to nail a struggling Bayelsa United in Minna after the first clash ended one apiece.
Prediction: 1 – 0
December 23, 2009: Bayelsa United 1 – 1 Tornadoes
February 7, 2009: Tornadoes 3 – 0 Bayelsa United
September 14, 2008: Bayelsa United 4 – 0 Tornadoes
April 27, 2008: Tornadoes 1 – 0 Bayelsa United
January 9, 2008: Bayelsa United 1 – 1 Tornadoes

Ocean Boys v Kaduna Utd
Kaduna United triumphed in the first game by 2 – 0 last October and has gone on to win two previous meetings out of three. But the northern club’s best result against 2006 champion, Ocean Boys, on the road remains a 1 – 1 draw on October 19, 2008. All seven wins by Ocean Boys have been at home with seven clean sheets signal that Kaduna United would struggle in Yenagoa having conceded 1.67 goals per game on the road with nine losses. The form guides of both sides in their last five games are nothing to write home about but Ocean Boys should edge this game by just.
Prediction: 2 – 1
October 17, 2009: Kaduna United 2 – 0 Ocean Boys
March 1, 2009: Kaduna United 2 – 1 Ocean Boys
October 19, 2008: Ocean Boys 1 – 1 Kaduna United
March 17, 2007: Kaduna United 1 – 1 Ocean Boys
January 21, 2007: Ocean Boys 2 – 0 Kaduna United
July 1, 2006: Ocean Boys 1 – 0 Kaduna United
April 22, 2006: Kaduna United 3 – 0 Ocean Boys

Kwara Utd v Wikki
Justin Tenger’s side has seen its title aspiration stutter in the hands of its rivals, Warri Wolves (1 – 3), Kano Pillars (0 – 3) and Enyimba (0 – 2) inside 22 days. Now five points behind the league leader, the Ilorin club would want to make up ground on the leading sides – Enyimba and Kano Pillars – by ensuring that Wikki Tourist faces a backlash at the Ilorin Township Stadium on Sunday. Kwara United is also seeking a double over Wikki this season after winning the first meeting 4 – 3 at the Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi in October 2009. Ukeyimah Akombo, Jaiyeola Yusuf, Isiaka Olawale and co would be ready to damp the hopes of Wikki getting a point in this game.
Prediction: 3 – 0
October 16, 2009: Wikki 3 – 4 Kwara United
March 15, 2008: Wikki 2 – 0 Kwara United
November 10, 2007: Kwara United 2 – 1 Wikki
March 25, 2007: Wikki 1 – 0 Kwara United
February 15, 2007: Kwara United 1 – 1 Wikki
September 5, 2006: Wikki 2 – 2 Kwara United
July 21, 2006: Kwara United 1 – 0 Wikki
May 12, 2006: Wikki 1 – 0 Kwara United 
November 13, 2005: Kwara United 1 – 0 Wikki
June 3, 2005: Wikki 2 – 0 Kwara United

Rangers v Lobi Stars
Dominic Iorfa must be wondering what is happening to Lobi Stars, as it travels to Enugu to face fifth-placed Flying Antelopes. Stars has won just once in its last five games and a poor away record of 10 losses and two draws coupled with a 0.08 goals per game. Definitely that stats cannot face a team has a home statistics of nine wins, three draws, 11 clean sheets and a 1.33 average goals per match. With likes of Fred Okwara, John Nnam, Nonso Elias and Damien Udeh in form, Lobi Stars is in the firing line, as its 2 – 1 win in the first game would count for nothing in this tie at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.
Prediction: 2 – 0
October 17, 2009: Lobi Stars 2 – 1 Enugu Rangers
February 15, 2009: Lobi Stars 3 – 0 Enugu Rangers
September 24, 2008: Enugu Rangers 1 – 0 Lobi Stars
March 9, 2008: Enugu Rangers 1 – 0 Lobi Stars
November 4, 2007: Lobi Stars 1 – 0 Enugu Rangers
November 16, 2005:            Lobi Stars 0 – 0 Enugu Rangers
June 4, 2005:  Enugu Rangers 2 – 0 Lobi Stars
Additional Report By China Acheru in Port Harcourt

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