Friday, July 15, 2011

NPL preview for Week 33

Two games in the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) have been moved to next Wednesday, as champions Enyimba, Kaduna United and Sunshine Stars play on the continent. Dolphins have the chance of going either three points or one clear at the top.

At the bottom, one or both of Crown FC and Zamfara United could be out of the drop zone depending on the outcome of Ocean Boys’ game. Here is the full preview of the eight games scheduled to hold on Matchday 33:

Saturday, July 16, 2011
Plateau United v Warri Wolves (Rwang Pam Stadium)
In the reverse game this season Wolves overran Plateau United 3 – 1. Bitrus Bewarang’s side will surely have their hands full against Wolves. Plateau United have won just once in their last five games while Wolves have won three, drew one and lost one in their last five games. Paul Aigbogun’s men will be keen to hold on to third place on the log and close the gap on joint leaders, Sunshine Stars and Dolphins. But they will also need to keep an eye on Plateau United’s free-scoring striker, George Akpabio.
Prediction: 1 – 1

Sharks v Gombe United (Sharks Stadium)
This will be the 14th head-to-head meeting between both sides since March 2003. The Blue Angels have won just four times in the last 13 game against Gombe United, which have won five with the others ending in draws. In the first game this season, Sharks held the Desert Scorpions to a goalless draw and coach Imama Amapakabo will be keen to see his side improve on their performance of two wins in their last five games. But the Blue Angels will be wary of the fact that it has been close to three years since they defeated Gombe United in Port Harcourt.
Prediction: 2 – 1

Kano Pillars v Dolphins (Sani Abacha Stadium)
This is no doubt the biggest game of Matchday 33. Last season in this corresponding fixture, Dolphins left Kano with a point after a 1 – 1 draw while Abduljeleel Ajagun ensured that they won this season’s first meeting by a lone goal in Port Harcourt. But four other previous trips by Stanley Eguma’s men have ended in losses. On form guide, Pillars edge Dolphins and Ladan Bosso’s side will relish the chance to close the gap on the leading sides in the NPL table to one point by the end of this weekend.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

3SC v Kwara United (Obafemi Awolowo Stadium; live on SuperSport 9)
The hosts will now learn to live without influential striker, Gbolahan Salami, is now reported to have sealed a two-year deal with PSL side, Mamelodi Sundowns. 3SC go into this game with no win in their last five games and they are just four points above the drop zone. Kwara United are equally on a struggling run of just a win in their last five games. 3SC are condemned to win this game after falling to win in their last three home games against Warri Wolves, Gombe United and Enugu Rangers.
Prediction: 2 – 1

Sunday, July 17, 2011
Bukola Babes v Crown FC (Ilorin Township Stadium)
This is a clash of newcomers. It will be the second meeting between both sides after the Babes won the first meeting in Ilaro by two-nil with goals from Abdulrahman Bashir and Fade Adebayo. Bukola Babes are smarting from winning their last two games while Crown FC know they are close to escaping the drop after squeezing two wins in their last three games. The hosts look good to complete the double over the Ajilete Valiant.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Zamfara United v Heartland (Sardauna Memorial Stadium)
Heartland thrashed Zamfara United 3 – 0 in Owerri on January 22 when both sides met in the first game this season. Last season in this same game Heartland lost by a lone goal in Gusau. Zamfara United have won four of their last five home games with a similar scoreline of 1 – 0. It will be a tough trip for the Naze Millionaires going up north to face Zamfara United in this game.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Ocean Boys v Lobi Stars (Samson Siasia Stadium)
Lobi Stars have not won in their four visits to Ocean Boys. Dominic Iorfa’s men are also yet to score on the road against Ocean Boys since their first-ever topflight clash in June 2006. But Lobi will fancy their chance against the Divine Warriors that are yet to win in their last five games including two back-to-back draws at home. Chimaobi Nwaogu made sure that Lobi won the reverse game this season but Ocean Boys will draw inspiration from winning this corresponding fixture in November 2009.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Enugu Rangers v Niger Tornadoes (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium; live on SuperSport 9)
Rangers have won five times in the previous 15 games against Tornadoes with six others ending in draws. The Flying Antelopes have lost just once in their last five games – a form guide that Tornadoes share with them. No doubt, Rangers will miss Under20 striker, Uche Nwofor upfront but in-form Brendan Ogbu and Ifeanyi Egwin have shown they can fill the void. Tornadoes will be seeking their first win in six years in Enugu, where they won by one-nil in August 2005.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

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