Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Predictor - Top spot scramble begins

Kano Pillars, Bayelsa United, El-Kanemi, Kwara United, Warri Wolves and Enugu Rangers are all in with a shout to dislodge table-topping Enyimba after the Matchday 27 games. Really interesting to see seven clubs vying for top spot of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) this Saturday and Sunday.

In my book, Kano Pillars do have a realistic chance of wresting the top position from the resurgent Enyimba. Here's a full review of this weekend's matches:

Saturday, August 24, 2013
Kwara United v Enyimba (Kwara State Stadium)
In the first instalment this season, Kwara United took a point off Enyimba in Aba. But the form guides of both teams have changed since that 0 – 0 outcome in April.

Coming off a Cup triumph in mid-week that ensured they reached their fifth final in eight years, Enyimba's engines are certainly well-oiled for this game as they've gone three league matches unbeaten now. Kwara United have lost their earlier spark this season and the absence of Adamu Yahaya seemed to have taken a chunk of fight out of them. Enyimba can pull off a result in Ilorin.
My prediction: 1 – 1

Bayelsa United v ABS (Samson Siasia Stadium)
ABS head coach, Kabir Dogo, is under pressure and could face the exit door should they lose to Bayelsa United who I expect not to drop points in this game.

Dogo's men will have to put up an improved display as Bayelsa United have won their last three home games, scoring eight goals and conceding just once. A tough afternoon awaits ABS in Yenagoa.
My prediction: 2 – 0

El-Kanemi Warriors v Warri Wolves (El-Kanemi Stadium)
This is going to be some clash - fourth-placed El-Kanemi Warriors going up against Wolves in sixth. Wolves thrashed El-Kanemi 4 – 1 in the first game this season and they face a big challenge in Maiduguri.

Junior Rafael Boumsong has scored four goals in El-Kanemi's last five games. Wolves have a mountain to climb against a team that have not conceded a goal in their last six home matches.
My prediction: 2 – 0

Kano Pillars v Sharks (Sani Abacha Stadium)
Sharks have enjoyed a five-game unbeaten streak which has helped them out of the bottom four. But they face Kano Pillars, who they've not won a league game against since July 2011.

The last time both teams met in Kano in a league game, Pillars ran out with a 4 – 0 win but I don't think this game will be a high-scoring match. However the Kano club should win this.
My prediction: 1 – 0

Dolphins v Enugu Rangers (Liberation Stadium)
Rangers go into this game without scoring a goal in their last six away games. Dolphins have not done any better either after losing their last three matches including a recent 1 – 2 home loss to city rivals, Sharks.

For me, this game is somehow evenly poised. But I'll still tip Dolphins to win this and tie Rangers on same points though the Enugu club will remain ahead of them.
My prediction: 1 – 0

Gombe United v Nasarawa United (Pantami Stadium)
Kadiri Ikhana assumes the head coach role at Nasarawa United in his first league game after being appointed this week on a short-term contract. His first task is at Gombe United who have won 12 of their 13 home matches this term.

I think Gombe United will add to Nasarawa United's misery especially with Maurice Cooreman having a squad that have been decent in home games this term.
My prediction: 1 – 0

Sunday, August 25, 2013
Wikki Tourists v Sunshine Stars (Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium)
The Tourists will be keen to take a leap out of the bottom four this weekend. I'm backing them to do so because Sunshine Stars have not scored in 11 straight away games since March 28.

I expect the like of Tunde Aremu, Bolaji Sakin, Shuaibu Ibrahim, Solomon Jabason, Alaba Johnson and goalkeeper Ayo Segun should lift Wikki if they feature in this tie.
My prediction: 1 – 0

Akwa United v 3SC (Uyo Township Stadium; live on SuperSport Select)
This is the dogfight of this matchday as both teams sit just above the bottom four. Akwa United go into this tie after a disappointing semifinal loss in the Cup to Warri Wolves in mid-week and on that premise will be fired to dump 3SC.

In the reverse game this term, 3SC won with a flattering 4 – 1 scoreline and Gbolahan Salami masterminded that result. But he won't be available for this game while Akwa United's Mfon Udoh will be lurking. The odd goal will settle this contest.
My prediction: 1 – 0

Lobi Stars v Heartland (Emmanuel Atongo Stadium)
In the first meeting this season David Tyavkase's brace of goals and Isah Akor's strike were good enough to see Heartland win 3 – 0. But recent poor run including just two wins in their last eight games mean the Naze Millionaires are just a point above the drop zone.

In the last two instalments of this contest, Lobi, who were just dumped out of the Cup by table-topping Enyimba, have won without conceding. It will be a cagey game but I'll put my money on Lobi to win.
My prediction: 1 – 0

Kaduna United v Nembe City (Kaduna Township Stadium)
I would have tipped Kaduna United to score as many goals as possible in this game but they've not been a high-scoring team. City are not in the best mental state for this tie having downed tools by not training for a whole week in protest of unpaid wages.

Ndubuisi Ekwuruibe and Linus Adams should be back in Kaduna United's squad for this and will make their presence count. I don't see Nembe City stopping the Crocodiles from getting their 12th league win of this season.
My prediction: 2 – 0

•The Predictor got five correct results including one exact score in the previous matchday.

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