Saturday, October 22, 2011

NPL preview for Week 35

After several weeks of inactivity in the Nigeria Premier League (NPL), the top flight resumes with a top-of-the-table clash between Dolphins and Sunshine Stars setting the tone for Match Day 35 games.

Here are previews for all 10 games scheduled to take place this Sunday:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Plateau United v Kwara United (Rwang Pam Stadium)
Bitrus Bewarang’s men are surprisingly on a streak of four games without a loss, and will play host to Kwara United. Plateau United will have their top scorer, George Akpabio back in the side after his attempt to secure a club abroad fell through.

In the reverse fixture, Akpabio made sure his side got a point through his 81st minute goal. Bewarang’s side can re-enact their 3 – 0 win over Kwara United in the 2003 season this time round by securing all points.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

3SC v Heartland (Obafemi Awolowo Stadium)
Heartland will play their first competitive game since being crowned Cup kings. Lodewijk de Kruif’s men will be fired up for this game against 3SC that had just called off a players’ strike.

In their first meeting this season, Okey Nwadike got the winner for the Naze Millionaires in Owerri in February this year.

But the Cup holders have not won at 3SC since 2004 with all four previous trips to Ibadan ending in losses. Fatai Amoo’s side need an outright to continue their push to safety.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Bukola Babes v Juth (Ilorin Township Stadium)
This will be the only second meeting between both sides in the top flight. Both sides played out an entertaining 2 – 2 draw on February 7 in Kaduna, which was temporary home of Juth at that time.

Juth will be happy to have back their Ghanaian forward, James Amankwei after a spell out with an injury. De-Healers are bottom of the log and their battle to stay in the elite division look a lost course for now.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Sharks v Warri Wolves (Sharks Stadium)
In the reverse fixture, Ekigho Ehiosun scored a hat-trick to hand Wolves a three-nil victory. In this same corresponding game last season, Paul Aigbogun’s men grind out a goalless draw but lost in their two previous visits to Sharks.

And Aigbogun will not have Ehiosun for this game, as he has been sent on loan to Turkish side, Samsunspor. John Obuh is back in the dugout for Sharks and a home win looks likely.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Zamfara United v Lobi Stars (Sardauna Memorial Stadium)
Zamfara United are in dire need of a win in this tie to give themselves a good chance of staying within distance of survival. Last season in this same game, Zamfara United won by 2 – 1 but lost in the reverse game of this season by a solitary goal.

Lobi Stars last won a game at Zamfara on February 3, 2008. This game should present a tricky end but Zamfara United should edge it by an odd goal.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Gombe United v Niger Tornadoes (Pantami Stadium)
There have been 15 past head-to-head meetings in this north central derby since 2003 with Tornadoes having the bragging rights. Justin Tenger’s side have claimed eight wins over Gombe United’s seven.

It is interesting to note that Tornadoes have won the last three meetings against their rivals including a 1 – 0 win in the reverse game this season. Gombe have lost just once to Tornadoes at home in eight years, and are primed to claim all points in this crunch game.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Sunshine Stars v Dolphins (Dipo Dina Stadium; live on SuperSport 9)
This is the signature game to NPL’s Super Sunday. This is a top-of-the-table clash between first and second placed sides tied on same points – 64.

Leaders, Sunshine Stars go into this game with a perfect home run while Dolphins have won more games on the road than any side this season.

Gbenga Ogunbote will hope Ajani Ibrahim and co put this past their rivals, just as Stanley Eguma’s side know that this potential title-decider could play a part in securing only their second league trophy. Dolphins are capable of ending Sunshine’s impressive run.
Our prediction: 2 – 2

Kano Pillars v Ocean Boys (Sani Abacha Stadium)
Ocean Boys’ best result in Kano was in 2009 when they got a point off Pillars in a goalless draw. Samson Unuanel’s men won the first meeting of this term by a lone goal but will hope to banish the demons of their 1 – 5 loss in this same game last season.

Kano Pillars will go out for this game having in mind that a win could help them trim the gap on the league leaders depending on the outcome of the top-of-the-table. It will be difficult to see Unuanel and his men escape a loss in Kano.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Enugu Rangers v Kaduna United (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium)
Rangers have suffered just a loss at home all season, and will not suffer another when Kaduna United come calling. Maurice Cooreman’s men are short on confidence at the moment after a 1 – 4 loss to champions, Enyimba in mid-week.

The talking point of this game will be on Jude Aneke (pictured above) equaling Ahmed Musa’s 18-goal record in a single season. In spite of the departure of key players to European sides in the summer, Rangers are expected to turn on the style considering their impressive goal-scoring run at home of 35 goals.

Only Sunshine Stars have scored more goals than the Flying Antelopes in home games this term.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Enyimba v Crown FC (Enyimba International Stadium)
The champions are out to complete the double on struggling newcomers, Crown FC. In the first game between both sides this season, Enyimba had to wait till the death to secure all points.

The Peoples Elephants appear to have put the disappointment of failing to reach the Caf Champions League final behind them with a 4 – 1 thrashing of Kaduna United mid-week and will push further to earn a continental spot despite being five points from achieving that feat.
Prediction: 3 – 0

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