Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Predictor's Week 18 preview

The old rivalry between Enugu Rangers and 3SC will take centre stage at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium and will be live on SuperSport Select from 4.55pm Nigerian time.

But the big game of Week 18 in the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) will be in Port Harcourt between champions, Dolphins and one of this season's title contenders, Kano Pillars. This matchday will also witness the Northern Savannah Derby in Gombe as well as seven other games across the country.

All the matches will hold this Sunday at nine venues with one of the games scheduled to kick-off early from 2pm Nigerian time.

Sunday, April 1, 2012
Niger Tornadoes v Lobi Stars (Bako Kontagora Stadium)
It will be the 17th clash between the two teams this Sunday with Lobi Stars edging the previous games with six wins over Tornadoes’ five. Tornadoes have failed to beat Lobi Stars in Minna in only three matches which ended in draws.

Both teams share identical form guide in their last five games with two wins apiece but it is expected that Tornadoes will win this game considering the impressive display of Sibi Gwar, Daniel Etor, Promise Onuh and Shehu Abdullahi at the Bako Kontagora Stadium this term.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Kwara United v Rising Stars (Ilorin Township Stadium)
Rising Stars have suffered five losses out of five games including a 0 – 1 home loss to champions, Dolphins in mid-week. Kwara United, on the other hand, were edged by a lone goal at 3SC. Tunde Sanni’s men are favoured to win this first Premier League meeting between both sides, which kicks off from 2pm Nigerian time on Sunday.

Segun Atere and Halilu Obadaki are still long-term injuries for the hosts but it is expected that Segun Alebiosu, Muritala Adekunle, Kabiru Sanusi and Sherif Jimoh will be among the starters for Kwara United.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Dolphins v Kano Pillars (Liberation Stadium)
Kano Pillars are the only team in the top three of the standings yet to win on the road this season. Pillars have not won a point at Dolphins in their last six visits to Port Harcourt in nine years including last season’s 0 – 1 loss.

The title holders, Dolphins are keen to climb back into the top five in the log and have the odds in their favour to beat Pillars, who have often struggled in their trips to the south-south. But the away team could have their big forward Gambo Mohammed back in the team for this trip to give their hosts a bit of a fight.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

ABS FC v Jigawa Golden Stars (Ilorin Township Stadium)
This is the first time that both teams will come head-to-head in the top flight. ABS are on an impressive run of eight games without a loss including a Matchday 3 walk-over on Sunshine Stars on March 21. The hosts are primed to improve on their eight-game unbeaten streak of last term by going one better when they face Jigawa Stars in Ilorin.

Attacking midfielder Bala Mohammed may be hogging the headlines for being the leading scorer of the Golden Stars so far with six goals, the visiting team are one of the two worst sides on the road with no wins – Kaduna United being the other. ABS will take all points but expect end-to-end stuff in this game.
Our prediction: 3 – 2

Enugu Rangers v 3SC (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium; live on SuperSport Select)
In recent years, 3SC have been in the shadows of their rivals, Rangers. Last season, the Flying Antelopes did the double on 3SC including a 2 – 0 win in this same game. It is interesting that Rangers’ dominance over 3SC since 2004 is so pronounced that the Oluyole Warriors have managed just two wins in eight head-to-head NPL games in eight years compared to five wins by their opponents.

The post-era of Festus Allen comes under serious test in Enugu, a venue where 3SC are yet to pick a point or score a goal in seven years. 3SC will miss the services of Elvis Kingsley, who is down with a groin injury, but will come under attack from Ejike Uzoenyi, Chikeluba Ofoedu, Haliru Umar, Oghogho Oduokpe and Efe Yarhere as they stand no chance of taking a result back to Ibadan.
Our prediction: 2 – 0

Heartland v Sharks (UJ Esuene Stadium)
Sharks have looked unconvincing this term with inconsistent results but in their last four games (home and away) against Heartland they are yet to lose and have won three times. This means Cup holders, Heartland are seeking for their first Premier League win over the Blue Angels in two years.

However, the best Sharks can get from this game will probably be a goal. Heartland with an improved form guide of just a loss in five games will win this as they are full of quality from goalkeeping position to their forward lines.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Enyimba v Akwa United (Enyimba Sports Stadium)
Matches between the two sides have been feisty on and off the pitch in recent years but six time champions, Enyimba have remained the masters in this tie. In their last three visits to Aba, Akwa United have never won and Enyimba know that these are games they need to win to stay top of the NPL standings.

Expect Akwa United to play their usual route-one football when they find Enyimba tough to break. Solomon Ogbeide’s men are also dangerous from dead-ball situations but the Peoples Elephant will win considering they have got match-winning players in Henry Uche, Nzube Anazemba, Chinonso Okonkwo, Ifeanyi Ede and Uche Kalu.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Sunshine Stars v Warri Wolves (Dipo Dina Stadium)
Wolves have not won a point in their last three visits to Sunshine Stars including last season’s 1 – 3 loss. It is going to be a difficult game for Wolves, as Sunshine Stars have lost in their last three games in all competitions this season including a 1 – 4 loss to Recreativo de Libolo in Angola.

The Wolves’ duo of Jude Aneke and ThankGod Ike still remain doubtful while bereaved Uche Ossai is still excused following the death of his father. Gbenga Ogunbote will want a reaction from his team as they know they cannot continue to slip up.
Our prediction: 2 – 1

Kaduna United v Ocean Boys (Kaduna Township Stadium)
It is sorry to say that Ocean Boys stand no chance of winning in Kaduna in spite of quality players present in their squad. Kaduna United last failed to win at home to the Divine Warriors in 2007 when they played a 1 – 1 draw.

Kaduna United know that the key to them staying in the top flight is winning in the dogfight games like this one.
Our prediction: 1 – 0

Gombe United v Wikki Tourists (Pantami Stadium)
Wikki will make a journey of around 182 kilometres from Bauchi to Gombe by road for this Northern Savannah Derby. It is definitely going to be an interesting game, as there have been no draws of any kind between both sides in the top flight since 2003. The Tourists have lived up to their name in this game by failing to pick a point or a win in their last six visits since March 2003.

There is a tricky feeling that Wikki will not leave Gombe as Tourists like they have done in the past nine years, as this will be the first draw between both teams.
Our prediction: 1 – 1

*On Matchday 17, The Predictor got TWO actual results as well as FIVE other scores right from 10 games.

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