Friday, June 17, 2011

NPL preview for Week 28

Sunshine Stars go into Matchday 28 as new leaders after toppling Dolphins at the summit of the log mid-week. But the Stars are involved in one of Sunday’s big clashes just as Dolphins face a tough trip to Ilorin.

This preview captures all the stats and likely results that will emerge from the nine venues billed to play host to the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) this weekend.

Saturday, June 18, 2011
Kwara United v Dolphins (Ilorin Stadium)
In the reverse fixture this term, Dolphins won by Captain Ejindu’s lone goal. For the first time this year, Dolphins have been toppled at the top of the table by Sunshine Stars. In five trips to Kwara United, Stanley Eguma’s side have lost three games by a similar 0 – 1 scorelines while they have drawn twice in 2007 and 2004. Dolphins will be keen to fight their way back to the top but it will be a difficult game in Ilorin.
Our prediction: 1 – 1

Sharks v 3SC (Sharks Stadium)
3SC have picked six points in their last five games and will travel to Port Harcourt to face Sharks, who have drawn their last two games including a 2 – 2 draw at home to Zamfara United. The best result posted by Fatai Amoo’s men at Sharks in six years was a 1 – 1 draw in February of 2005. 3SC go into this tie having won the first game between both sides this season through goals from Gbolahan Salami and Raheem Owolabi, and will hope to erase their first home loss to traditional rivals, Enugu Rangers, by aiming for a result.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Plateau United v Kano Pillars (Rwang Pam Stadium)
Ladan Bosso’s side got an emphatic win over Plateau United in the first match in Kano by winning 5 – 1. Plateau United are second from the bottom while Pillars are fourth on the log and will fancy closing the gap on Sunshine Stars and Dolphins at the top this weekend. But the last two visits of Kano Pillars to Plateau have ended in defeats – 0-3 in 2004 and 0-1 in 2003.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Gombe United v Bukola Babes (Pantami Stadium)
This will be the second meeting between the two sides. The Babes now without coach Festus Allen, who masterminded a 3 – 2 win over Gombe United in the first game, head to Pantami with just a point in five games. But Bukola Babes still have the same playing personnel that took the topflight by storm in the first round except for Kingsley Salami, Ismaila Gata and Daniel Etor who have been sold off. The Desert Scorpions will be out to sting the Babes.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Sunday, June 19, 2011
Niger Tornadoes v Zamfara United (Bako Kontagora Stadium)
The first game of this clash this season in Kano produced four goals - two apiece. Zamfara United have since farmed out Obasesam Enite, who scored their two goals in that 2 – 2 draw with Tornadoes to title-chasing Dolphins. Zamfara United, however go to Minna on the back of four previous visits in which they have got just one point. Tornadoes’ new men, Sibi Gwar and Soga Sambo have been in fine form and Bello Gusau’s men need to be wary of both players.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Crown FC v Lobi Stars (Gateway Int’l Stadium)
Crown FC will for the first time aim for their third straight win since joining the topflight this season. After wins against Heartland and Juth, the Ajilete Valiant want to add Lobi Stars to their list of conquered in the space of three weeks. Godfrey Esu’s side lost the reverse game this season by a lone goal but with a run of three wins in their last five including two victories on the home front, it is difficult to look beyond Crown taking the points in this tie.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Heartland v Juth (Dan Anyiam Stadium)
James Amankwei’s goal in the first clash between both sides handed Juth all three points. Juth lie bottom of the log while Heartland are 12th. The management of the Naze Millionaires has placed its squad on half salaries for a string of poor results lately and the side need to start winning games to give the duo of Christian Chukwu and Dutchman Lodewijk de Kruif the chance of remaining in their positions as technical consultant and head coach respectively.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Warri Wolves v Sunshine Stars (Warri City Stadium; live on SuperSport Nine)
New leaders, Sunshine Stars, face their first test as pacesetters at Warri Wolves. They won the first meeting by 3 – 1 in Ijebu-Ode three days before the last Christmas Day with Ajani Ibrahim, Godfrey Oboabona and Cletus Itodo getting the goals before Tochukwu Mbachu got Wolves' consolation. Last two visits by Sunshine Stars to Warri in 2009 and 2010 have ended in 0 – 1 and 0 – 2 defeats respectively. This game is expected to produce key battles all over the park on Sunday. Even without their influential marksman, Ehiosun Ekigho, Wolves have coped well especially at home.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Kaduna United v Ocean Boys (Kaduna Township Stadium)
The home side have the edge going into this tie. In 10 head-to-head topflight meetings since 2006, United have won five against Ocean Boys’ three with the other two ending in draws. Last season, Kaduna United did the double on Ocean Boys but lost the reverse fixture of this season by 1 – 2 at the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa. The away side are still seeking for their first point on the road this term and Kaduna might prove a difficult place to earn that at this time of the season.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

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