Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NPL Week 9 preview

Gombe United will have the chance to reclaim top spot in the standings of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) with Dolphins excused for their Caf Champions League playoff first leg match in Malabo against Sony Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

The big game is in Enugu between Rangers and Enyimba while the battle continues for early survival at the foot of the table.

Wednesday, February 14, 2012
Enugu Rangers v Enyimba (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium)
Third placed Enyimba go up against fourth placed Rangers in the tie of this round. The Flying Antelopes have the meanest backline this term so far and have recruited former Enyimba midfielder, Elvis Kingsley ahead of this clash. In this same game last season, it was Ifeanyi Egwim’s first half goal that earned Rangers all the points. Egwim has since joined Dolphins.

Okey Emordi will send out his men with the aim to claim the scalp of his former team now under former Under23 head coach, Austin Eguavoen but will miss the impetus of attacking winger, Ejike Uzoenyi on international duty with the Super Eagles. The hosts will be wary of Josiah Maduabuchi and Gbolahan Salami, who both combined well to put high-flying Gombe United to the sword on Matchday 8.
Our prediction: 1 – 1

Lobi Stars v Ocean Boys (Old Parade Ground)
On Matchday 8, 2006 champions Ocean Boys put their profligacy in front of goal behind them by nailing hapless Jigawa Stars three-nil, but face a different proposition in Dominic Iorfa’s men on Wednesday. This is an early season dogfight between two sides in the bottom five of the log.

The Divine Warriors are still in search for that first away win in more than a season in the top flight and they head to Lobi Stars with a record of two draws in five visits including last season’s 1 – 1 draw while the other four games ended in defeat. The former champions will be keen to replicate same result of this same fixture last season by leaving Abuja with a point.
Our prediction: 0 – 0

Wikki Tourists v 3SC (Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium)
A loss for 3SC in this match could lead to the Ibadan-based club finding themselves struggling for their top flight status so early in the season. Festus Allen’s 3SC have a slightly impressive form guide in their last five games – five points from 15 – better than the Tourists with three from 15 points.

But 3SC’s biggest headache has remained earning points on the road in recent seasons, and this term they have suffered two defeats in two away games without scoring and it is difficult to see where their goals will come from against Ladan Bosso’s side in Bauchi, where they last won 2 – 0 in 2004.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Sunshine Stars v Sharks (Dipo Dina Stadium)
Last season in this same game, a goal in each half from Ukeyima Akombo and Ajani Ibrahim ensured that Sunshine Stars got all points against the Blue Angels. John Obuh’s men have endured a struggling start to this season with eight points from 21.

In five previous trips to Sunshine Stars, the Blue Angels have never won since 2003 and this time they head to Ijebu-Ode without goalkeeper Okiemute Odah on international duty with the Super Eagles. Gbenga Ogunbote’s men will go for the kill in this time even as they will miss their captain Godfrey Oboabona.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Jigawa Golden Stars v Rising Stars (Hadejia Township Stadium)
This is a clash between two newly-promoted sides this season. Picking points from this kind of games will be important for the survival of both clubs and Jigawa Stars’ head coach, Abdul Pele underscores the prior of such to “We need to pick the points in this game. This is important so that we can maintain our place in the Premier League by next season,” he said.

NPL debutants, Rising Stars have notched up two wins, four draws and suffered just a loss in their opening seven games and will want to continue their modest start to this season in Hadejia though it is hard to look beyond Pele’s men.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Akwa United v Niger Tornadoes (UJ Esuene Stadium, live on SuperSport 9)
Solomon Ogbeide’s Akwa United are one of the few teams that have made a decent start to this season. The Promise Keepers won the last two home games when they played host to Tornadoes in 2007 and 2009.

Niger Tornadoes will be in Calabar with a strong squad that include their top scorer so far this term in Azuka Ebinum as well as Sibi Gwar, Shehu ‘Romario’ Abdullahi and Daniel Etor. But Ogbeide’s men will turn back Tornadoes without anything to show after this game.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Warri Wolves v Kano Pillars (Warri City Stadium)
Paul Aigbogun’s team were stretched in this game last season before a goal at the death from midfielder Michael Okoyoh condemned Kano Pillars to a 2 – 1 loss. Aigbogun will not have goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim, Uche Ossai, Sunday Mba and centre-back Azubuike Egwuekwe for this game just as Pillars will miss defender Papa Idris – all owing to the friendly between Nigeria and Liberia.

Wolves will look to storm back into the top three, as the duo of Jude Aneke and Uruemu Egbeta lead the lines against Kano Pillars, who have been inconsistent on the road since the start of this season.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Thursday, February 15, 2012
Heartland v Kaduna United (Gabros Stadium)
Cup holders, Heartland move into their temporary home ground in Nnewi without five of their key players for this game. Obinna Nwachukwu, Kabir Umar, Kingsley Salami, Uche Oguchi and Bartholomew Ibenegbu are in Monrovia for Wednesday’s international friendly against Liberia’s Lone Star.

Heartland’s Dutch coach, Lodewijk de Kruif will have to reshuffle his team without the quintet to face an in form Kaduna United, who have won their last two games against Enyimba and Wikki Tourists. But the Crocodiles have yet to win a point at Heartland in five years since the 1 – 1 draw in March 2007. In spite of the depleted personnel at Heartland, a win is on the cards for them.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Gombe United v Kwara United (Pantami Stadium)
Having lost back-to-back at Dolphins and Enyimba that has seen them lose top spot in the standings for the first time in four weeks, expect to see the duo of Sanusi Sani and Mustapha Babadidi return to put Kwara United to the sword. Babadidi and Sani are currently joint top scorers with six goals each and it will be interesting to see how the visiting club keep both strikers at bay on Thursday.

Babadidi told that he is still inspired by January’s Player of the Month award given to him by the organisers of Naija Premier League Awards, as he faces Kwara United. “I am ready for this game (Kwara United) and I want to do well again so that I can win the February award,” Babadidi said.

Though Kwara United stunned Gombe United 2 – 0 in this same game last term, but face a different side with a different mentality.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

*On Matchday 8, The Predictor got FIVE correct scores and no exact result from the ten games played.

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