Friday, November 05, 2010

Preview for NPL Week 1

After three postponements the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) for the 2010/2011 will finally get underway though a lot of pundits, players and officials still feel that there are still a number of issues to be thrashed out. But we look beyond those issues by cracking open the likely outcome of all 10 games for Day One of Nigeria’s biggest league championship.

Saturday, November 6, 2010
Kaduna Utd v Kano Pillars
For this season, this game will be the traditional opener and star game according to the NPL. Last season, Kano Pillars got a point off Kaduna United in this same fixture but the home side are now a different team under Maurice Cooreman having emerged champions of the cup competition in Nigeria last term. Kano Pillars have only picked a draw in their last two visits to Kaduna and league followers keep wondering where their goals will come from this season with Ahmed Musa now part of the foreign legion. May be Moses Ogaga or Victor Namo could fill the vacuum. Cooreman on the other hand will not have influential striker, Bola Bello, for this game since he could be out till next year after an auto accident this year but can bank on Sani Aruwa. This game could end goalless.
Prediction:  0 – 0
Recent head-to-head meetings
Sunday, September            14, 2008
Kaduna United 2 – 1 Kano Pillars
Saturday, February 7, 2010
Kano Pillars 1 – 0 Kaduna United
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Kaduna United 0 – 0 Kano Pillars
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Kano Pillars 1 – 0 Kaduna United

Sunday, November 7, 2010
Bukola Babes v Zamfara Utd
The newcomers flex their muscles against modest Premier League side, Zamfara United on Sunday at the Offa Stadium. Bukola Babes are unknown bunch except for their head coach, Erasmus Onuh, who has decided to stick to less-known players for this season. But the duo of Seun Sogbesan and Obi Bassey are players to watch out for in this game. Zamfara United were the last side to register for the season but they will largely depend on the experience of Austin Kadiri. The new boys in the league should edge this game.
Prediction: 1 – 0
Recent head-to-head meetings

Shooting Stars v Sunshine Stars
In this same fixture last term, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) got the bragging rights in the southwest derby with second half strikes from Uche Nwafor and Kareem Shuaibu. Coach Fatai Amoo of Shooting Stars faces his old team in Ibadan and will hope to start o a winning note in a bid to fulfill his promise of a continental berth. 3SC failed to sign Henry Uche but have veteran Kabiru Alausa and youngster Timothy Idogbe in their side for this tie. Sunshine Stars are smarting from claiming the southwest pre-season tourney and new signings, Ofem Inah and Promise Onuh, will hope to complement the efforts of Ibrahim Baballe and co. The Ibadan side have a chance of nicking this one.
Prediction: 2 – 1
Recent head-to-head meetings
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Sunshine Stars 1 – 0 Shooting Stars
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Shooting Stars 2 – 0 Sunshine Stars

Plateau Utd v Dolphin
The Rwang Pam Stadium in Jos will play host to the game between these two sides. Two coaches – Nduka Ndubuisi (Plateau United) and Stanley Eguma (Dolphin) – who worked together since 2005 until last September will come up against each on Sunday. In four top-flight head-to-head meetings since 2003, Plateau United have squeezed just a win against the former champions. The Jos side’s last timeout in the elite division in 2004 witnessed Dolphin doing a double over them with Bola Bello – now with Kaduna United – being the man that hatched their fall. Ahead of this game, three ex-Dolphin men, Solomon Bitrus, Abayomi Olorunda and Eze Nwobike, could face their old team while new men, Afeso Attah, Kola Awe, Kennedy Chinwo, Prince Nnamdi, Obinna David, Abbas Akanji, Victor Michael and Owazuoke Wobo are in line for their debut for Dolphin. But watch out for Plateau United youngster, George Akpabio, as this game looks a close call.
Prediction: 0 – 0
Recent head-to-head meetings
Saturday, February 1, 2003
Plateau United 1 – 0 Dolphin
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Dolphin 3 – 0 Plateau United
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Plateau United 0 – 1 Dolphin
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Dolphin 2 – 0            Plateau United

Sharks v Juth FC
This is another tie involving a Port Harcourt club and another from Jos like Plateau United versus Dolphin. Since November 14, 2007 the Blue Angels have not lost at home to The Healers and that may not happen so soon despite the financial hiccups faced by Sharks lately. Expect the likes of Victor Ezeji, Bright Ejike, Okiemute Odah and Ousmane Pape Sane among others to play roles in this game with coach John Obuh on the lines barking instructions. Under Tunde Rahman, Jos University Teaching Hospital (Juth) Football Club looked comfortable in the lower division before gaining promotion to the top-flight at the end of the season. Rahman will still be banking on a number of the players such as Chris Madaki, Babawo Mohammed (captain), David Gyang, Victor Yakubu and James Amankwei. Sharks will win this game.
Prediction: 2 – 0
Recent head-to-head meetings
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Sharks FC 4 – 1 Juth FC
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Juth FC 2 – 1 Sharks FC
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sharks FC 1 – 0 Juth FC
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Juth FC 2 – 1 Sharks FC

Gombe Utd v Heartland
It has been seven years since Heartland claimed a point off Gombe United in this same fixture when both sides played a 1 – 1 draw on March 16, 2003. Then Heartland was still known as Iwuanyanwu Nationale. But six subsequent visits to Gombe have seen the Naze Millionaires capitulate to defeats. In those six losses, Heartland scored just once – and that was last season. It was Gombe United attacking midfielder, Ifeanyi Okoro’s brace in the space of two minutes that undid Heartland last term in this same game after Bello Musa had sent them in front just after half-time. It is unclear if Samson Siasia will be in charge of this game after taking up a national team job with the Nigerian FA on Thursday, as this would have been his first league game in charge of the Owerri side. Because of Heartland’s desire to return to the top, they could finally break their bogey team.
Prediction: 0 – 1
Recent head-to-head meetings
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Gombe United 1 – 1 Iwuanyanwu Nationale
Monday, August 18, 2003
Iwuanyanwu Nationale 3 – 1Gombe United
Wednesday, March, 17, 2004
Iwuanyanwu Nationale 1 – 0 Gombe United
Sunday, July 4, 2004
Gombe United 1 – 0 Iwuanyanwu Nationale
Sunday, March 6, 2005
Iwuanyanwu Nationale 1 – 0 Gombe United
Saturday August 13, 2005
Gombe United 1 – 0 Nationale
Saturday May 27, 2006
Gombe United 1 – 0 Heartland
Sunday, August 6, 2006
Heartland 1 – 0 Gombe United
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Gombe United 1 – 0 Heartland
Sunday April 27, 2008
Heartland 4 – 0 Gombe United
Sunday November 9, 2008
Heartland 2 – 1 Gombe United
Sunday March 22, 2009
Gombe United 2 – 0 Heartland
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Gombe United 2 – 1 Heartland
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Heartland 1 – 0 Gombe United

Niger Tornadoes v Crown FC
On paper, Tornadoes should blow off Crown but the Ogbomosho club will not want to be rolled over. Though Ladan Bosso’s side has lost experienced campaigners in David Amanyi, Bolaji Mohammed, David Ochieje, Eugene Salami, Promise Onuh, Abdulrasheed Ajagun and Kelvin Njoku, Tornadoes should not drop points in this game. Ahmed Giwa, Ayo Babalola and Seun Akinyemi should play roles in Ganiyu Salami’s side in Sunday’s game in Minna. But their roles will not be enough to stop Niger Tornadoes.
Prediction: 3 – 0
Recent head-to-head meetings

Warri Wolves v Kwara Utd
Michael Okoyoh will be hoping to play another big part in this game like he did last season with a twin strike when Wolves romped to a 3 – 1 win over Kwara United. But the Afonja Warriors are under a different coach in Kadiri Ikhana and we will wait to see how that pans out in this game. Ikhana sure has the men that can battle Wolves in Blessing Okardi, Monday Osagie, Yusuf Jaiyeola and the young quartet of Chinedu Ajanah, Gbenga Arokoyo, Kelvin Kpakor and Barnabas Imenger. Wolves’ manager, Paul Aigbogun, has signed ThankGod Ike, Emmanuel Omodiagbe and Sunday Mbah to strengthen his side while Fengor Ogude left last season. This game will be a big test for both sides but we stick with Wolves.
Prediction: 2 – 1
Recent head-to-head meetings
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Kwara United 1 – 1 NPA
Saturday, July 10, 2004
NPA 2 – 0 Kwara United
Friday, April 22, 2005
NPA 0 – 0 Kwara United
Friday, September 30, 2005
Kwara United 3 – 1 NPA
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Warri Wolves 3 – 1 Kwara United
Wednesday February 17, 2010
Kwara United 2 – 0 Warri Wolves           

Enyimba v Ocean Boys
Two former champions go head-to-head this Sunday in Aba. Fans of the Peoples Elephant will remember how Ocean Boys nearly left Aba with a point before Magnus Iwuoha grabbed the winner 13 minutes to regulation time. Enyimba coach Okey Emordi in spite of losing key players in the off-season is still bullish about his side’s chances this season going into this game. Former Bayelsa United man, Andrew Michael will be hoping to make his first start for Ocean Boys but the six-time Nigerian champions should start with a win.
Prediction: 2 – 0
Recent head-to-head meetings
Saturday May 27, 2006
Enyimba 2 – 0 Ocean Boys
Sunday August 6, 2006
Ocean Boys 2 – 1 Enyimba
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Enyimba 1 – 0 Ocean Boys
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Ocean Boys 2 – 1 Enyimba
Sunday, September            28, 2008
Enyimba 1 – 0 Ocean Boys
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Ocean Boys 1 – 0 Enyimba
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Ocean Boys 1 – 1 Enyimba
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Enyimba 2 – 1 Ocean Boys

Enugu Rangers v Lobi Stars
It is 26 years since Rangers last won a trophy in Nigeria but they start this term at home against Lobi Stars. In six previous meetings of this same fixture, Lobi Stars has picked just a point off the Flying Antelopes – that was in the corresponding game last season that ended goalless on March 21 this year in Enugu. The Stars have not scored in Enugu in all of those meetings and face the same dilemma against Alphonsus Dike’s men this time. Ghanaian midfielder, Charles Taylor and Nduka Ozokwo have returned to the side and if Ejike Uzoenyi gets a look in, then Lobi Stars could be in a rough Sunday afternoon.
Prediction: 2 – 0
Recent head-to-head meetings
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Lobi Stars 2 – 1 Enugu Rangers
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Enugu Rangers 2 – 0 Lobi Stars
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Enugu Rangers 1 – 0 Lobi Stars
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Lobi Stars 2 – 0 Enugu Rangers
Saturday, June 4, 2005
Enugu Rangers 2 – 0 Lobi Stars
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Lobi Stars 0 – 0 Enugu Rangers
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Lobi Stars 1 – 0 Enugu Rangers
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Enugu Rangers 1 – 0 Lobi Stars
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Enugu Rangers 1 – 0 Lobi Stars
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Lobi Stars 3 – 0 Enugu Rangers
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Lobi Stars 2 – 1 Enugu Rangers
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Enugu Rangers 0 – 0 Lobi Stars

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