Saturday, February 04, 2012

NPL Week 7 preview

The clash of this weekend will certainly be in Port Harcourt between Dolphins and high-flying Gombe United this Sunday. Gombe United duo of Mustapha Babadidi and Sanusi Sani are hogging the headlines ahead this clash.

There will also be nine other games on matchday seven of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) this weekend.

Saturday, February 4, 2012
Lobi Stars v Heartland (Old Parade Ground)
In the last eight years, cup holders, Heartland can boast of an impressive record against Lobi Stars in the top flight. In 16 head-to-head games between both clubs during the period the Naze Millionaires have won seven and have lost just three in those games including last season’s 0 – 3 loss.

But Lodewijk de Kruif’s men are still in search of their first away win in two seasons. Influential Heartland centre-back Chinedu ‘Chicago’ Efugh remains a doubt owing to injury. With no win at Lobi in previous eight trips, the Naze Millionaires have the chance to get a result, as this game will be played in Abuja instead of Katsina-Ala after the NPL slammed a ban on the Emmanuel Atongo Stadium.
Our prediction: 0 – 0

Niger Tornadoes v Wikki Tourists (Bako Kontagora Stadium)
The last time Wikki won at Tornadoes was in May 2007 and Ladan Bosso was the man in charge and will also lead them this time. But six other visits to Minna since 2003 have ended in losses for the Tourists. Justin Tenger’s team will want to continue their dominance over Wikki by notching up a fourth straight win in Minna in the top flight.

Tornadoes’ midfielder, Shehu ‘Romario’ Abdullahi is expected to be fit for this tie after he missed the trip to Sunshine Stars due to illness. Tenger will hand Daniel Etor, Azuka Ebinum and Sibi Gwar the usual licence to kill.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Kano Pillars v Kwara United (Hadejia Township Stadium)
Kano Pillars start this game in 14th position and at Hadejia - their temporary home - following security concerns in Kano of late. In spite of being decimated by injuries Kwara United are unbeaten after five games but now face a stern test from Pillars.

Tunde Sanni will hope to have injured defender Suraj Sodiq for this game. Pillars' coach, Baba Ganaru is expected to present a strong squad in a bid to earn his team a second win of the season.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Sharks v Akwa United (Sharks Stadium, live on SuperSport 9)
The Blue Angels go into this round of matches with just one win in five games compared to Akwa United’s two wins, two draws and a loss. John Obuh’s team need to bounce back real fast after suffering a 0 – 5 loss to Gombe United in mid-week. Already some league followers fear Akwa United could face a backlash in Port Harcourt.

Sharks have won two of this corresponding fixture by 2 – 0 and 3 – 0 in 2009 and 2008 respectively but will face a different Akwa United under the guidance of coach Solomon Ogbeide. The Blue Angels are condemned to win this, as they have managed just four points from five matches.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Rising Stars v Enugu Rangers (Dipo Dina Stadium)
Okey Emordi will lead his team in their first-ever top flight clash with new boys, Rising Stars in Ijebu-Ode, and will hope his men re-enact their home performance that helped them defeat Kano Pillars 3 – 1 on Wednesday.

Rangers have been faced with a striking crisis since the season started with the departure of forwards Brendan Ogbu and Ifeanyi Egwim to rivals, Heartland and Dolphins respectively. But new boy, Rasaq Adegbite has proven he can be a capable replacement after striking a good understanding with youngster Emeka Eze. A big test awaits Rangers at Rising Stars, who are largely unknown though Emordi’s men are favourites to pick the full points.
Our prediction: 1 – 2

Sunday, February 5, 2011
ABS FC v 3SC (Ilorin Township Stadium)
Basement boys of the NPL, ABS FC play host to 3SC. For the hosts, last season’s 4 – 1 win against 3SC will flood their minds but they face a team handled by their former head coach, Festus Allen. This is the third match between both clubs in the top flight with 3SC being the most in-form team with two wins, two draws and a loss in their last five games while ABS are bottom of the standings with just a point from 15.

Erasmus Onuh will have one of the club’s top strikers from last season, Abdulrahman Bashir, now back after trials abroad, to help them secure their first full points of this term. 3SC could leave out Afeez Awakan and Morenikeji Akanbi due to injuries.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Ocean Boys v Warri Wolves (Samson Siasia Stadium)
The Divine Warriors have never won a top flight game against Warri Wolves. The Warri-based club have succeeded to earn a point in each of their three visits to Ocean Boys including last term’s 1 – 1 draw when Ehiosun Ekigho cancelled out Collins Nwaneri’s goal.

Wolves no longer have Ekigho (now with Samsunspor) but have Jude Aneke and will be without defensive midfielder Emmanuel Omodiagbe – a long-term doubt due to injury. Ocean Boys will have their full squad on ground for this game with an eye to grab their first full points of the season against the unbeaten side of Paul Aigbogun.
Our prediction: 1 – 1

Dolphins v Gombe United (Liberation Stadium)
This is the game of this matchday as the champions, Dolphins go up against table-topping Gombe United in Port Harcourt. Last season in this game, Dolphins crushed the Desert Scorpions 3 – 0 but will have at the back of their minds this time that Gombe United humiliated their city rivals, Sharks 5 – 0 in mid-week.

This game will have top performers on display with leading scorers, Mustapha Babadidi and Sanusi Sani (both of Gombe United) certain to hand the back four of the champions a busy Sunday afternoon. It is also expected that Egwim will make his first start for Dolphins after he came on as a second half substitute in the mid-week game at 3SC. Dolphins have managed an average of a goal per game this term and should nick this by the odd goal.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Jigawa Golden Stars v Sunshine Stars (Hadejia Stadium)
Jigawa Golden Stars return to their home ground in Hadejia after playing one game at the Kaduna Township Stadium. Coach Abdul Pele’s team will feel at home playing against last term’s runners-up, Sunshine Stars who appear to be late starters compared to last season.

Skipper Godfrey Oboabona has been in fantastic form this season. He has scored three times in four games and Jigawa Stars will have to be wary not to give away free kicks and penalties, as he is now a specialist dead-ball situations. The last time both sides met in this same game was in March 2008 and it ended one apiece. Gbenga Ogunbote and his men face a tough game.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Kaduna United v Enyimba (Kaduna Township Stadium)
Kaduna United have started the season on a poor note with just a win in five games with the others ending in losses. Maurice Cooreman’s team are also second from bottom and now face six-time champions, Enyimba. Though Enyimba have not won in their last four games in Kaduna, new head coach, Austin Eguavoen has the chance to earn the full points against Cooreman’s struggling side.

Enyimba will also miss the invaluable touch of playmaker Josiah Maduabuchi, who is out for at least 14 days.
Our prediction: 0 – 1

*It was a perfect outing for ‘The Predictor’ in matchday six, as he hit the bull's eye by predicting all TEN scores correctly including FOUR exact results.

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