Saturday, June 04, 2011

NPL preview for Week 25

Matchday 25 in the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) throws a few tricky ties. Here is a preview of all 10 games billed to hold across the country on Saturday and Sunday:

Saturday, June 4, 2011
Dolphins v Niger Tornadoes (Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt)
First clash of the season went the way of Tornadoes through a Chinedu Justice goal. Justin Tenger’s men will rue dropping two points at home on matchday 24 to Lobi Stars, as Dolphins will want to return to winning ways after losing to Gombe United on same matchday. Dolphins look strong to win this considering their 100 per cent home run. Tornadoes have not picked a point at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt in eight years and that should not change this time.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Kano Pillars v Crown FC (Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano)
In the reverse fixture Kano Pillars surprisingly capitulated and lost 0 – 2. But Crown will not have Harrison Egbune who masterminded that triumph after he was sold to rival side, Sunshine Stars. A win looks on the cards for Ladan Bosso’s men after they failed to secure a point at 3SC mid-week.
Our prediction: 3 – 0

Sunday, June 5, 2011
Bukola Babes v Plateau United (Ilorin Stadium)
Coach Festus Allen has got the backing of his players in spite of the three-game ultimatum slammed on him by Bukola Babes. The Babes go into this tie on a poor form guide of just a win in their last five games. This game could signal a resurgence for both clubs but Allen’s men will want it more though they lost the first meeting in Week 5 by a lone goal.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

3SC v Enyimba (MKO Abiola Int’l Stadium, Abeokuta)
Titleholders Enyimba have the edge going into this game. In nine past meetings between both sides since 2004, the Peoples Elephant have got five wins while 3SC’s only win came in February 2004. Enyimba’s dominance over 3SC since June 2004 also shows that they have not lost their last three games on the road to the Oluyole Warriors including last term’s 0 – 0 draw in Ibadan. Now Fatai Amoo’s men will want to get their first win over Enyimba in seven years in the topflight but their biggest undoing is tiring out in the last 20 minutes of their games.
Our prediction: 1 – 1

Juth v Kaduna United (Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos)
Juth surely need to lift their game if they will want to escape the drop. In the reverse game in Kaduna, they got a point off Maurice Cooreman’s side after Chris Madaki cancelled out Jude Aneke’s strike. The last time both sides met in this same fixture was in March 2009 and Juth won by a lone goal. Emmanuel Deutche will surely rally his troop to pick all points in this tricky game.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Sunshine Stars v Sharks (Gateway Int’l Stadium, Ijebu-Ode)
This is definitely the biggest game of matchday 25. The Blue Angels head to Ijebu-Ode to face title-chasing Sunshine Stars with an away record of four losses in four since 2003 against their hosts. Sharks won the first clash in Port Harcourt by 2 – 1 while this same fixture ended 3 – 1 in favour of Sunshine Stars. No doubt, John Obuh knows how to conjure results in difficult terrains but Sunshine Stars will not want to let slip, as they continue the chase on leaders, Dolphins.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Heartland v Kwara United (Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri)
In their last home game, the Naze Millionaires struggled to find their rhythm against Warri Wolves. Already, Heartland have dropped six points at home this term in spite of having one of the strongest playing personnel in the topflight. But Kwara United have not fared any better in their last five games to Owerri including last season’s 3 – 1 loss to Heartland. The best result Kadiri Ikhana’s men took away from Owerri was a 1 – 1 draw in November 2007. Definitely Lodewijk de Kruif and Christian Chukwu will knock heads together in a bid to produce a win in this to ease the pressure on them.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Lobi Stars v Warri Wolves (Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi)
Lobi will thank their stars that there will be no Ehiosun Ekigho for this game. But they will still have to keep free-scoring Efe Yarhere at bay. In the first meeting Yarhere and Tochukwu Mbachu got the goals for Wolves in a 2 – 1 win at the Warri City Stadium. Expect to see coach Paul Aigbogun employ a counter-attacking style for this game in a bid to force Lobi to play a highline at the back.
Our prediction: 1 – 1

Ocean Boys v Gombe United (Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa)
Last season, Gombe United lost this same game by 0 – 2 and have never beaten Ocean Boys on the road. The Desert Scorpions’ best result at Ocean Boys was a 1 – 1 draw in September 2008. Coincidentally it will be a clash between the 14th (Gombe United) and 15th (Ocean Boys) teams on the log. In the first meeting this season, Mustapha Babadidi got the winner for Gombe but Samson Unuanel’s side will go out to even scores.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Zamfara United v Enugu Rangers (Sardauna Memorial Stadium, Gusau)
The last time Rangers won in Gusau was in August 2005 by a lone goal. Three other trips to Zamfara, including last season’s 0 – 1 loss, have ended in defeats. Zamfara United were battered 1 – 5 in the first game between both sides this season and will want to take their pound of flesh with a win at least. Rangers have been poor on the road with just a win in 12 away games.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

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