Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Predictor – Survival battle begins

It's going to be battles at the top and at the bottom of the Glo Premier League (or the Nigeria Professional Football League) standings this Sunday. I think clubs like Wikki Tourists, Sharks, 3SC and Nasarawa United as well as ABS and Lobi Stars have found themselves in the struggle to avoid the drop and it is the start of fighting for survival for them.

Warri Wolves, El-Kanemi, Dolphins and Bayelsa United are all in contention to topple Kano Pillars at the top while I've picked the Bayelsa United versus El-Kanemi tie as the one to watch.

One dogfight you shouldn't miss is the ABS, Lobi Stars match, which is live on SuperSport 9, this Sunday.

Sunday, August 11, 2013
3SC v Kano Pillars (Lekan Salami Stadium)
This is a closed door game but should definitely produce fireworks. 3SC are on a poor run of six matches without a win and now find themselves in the bottom four. Kano Pillars have been equally poor on road trips after their blazing start to the campaign.

Head coach of the champions, Mohammed Baba Ganaru, is out of this clash after his involvement in a ghastly motor accident recently. Abdu Maikaba and Kabir Baleria will take charge in his absence. 3SC will likely not have Gbolahan Salami in this clash but I'll tip the Oluyole Warriors to nick this by an odd goal.

My prediction: 1-0

Sharks v Gombe United (Sharks Stadium)
The Blue Angels against all odds took a point at Kwara United and were close to garnering three points but for the ruling out of their late goal. Gombe United have been one of the two teams without a road point all season - Kaduna United being the other.

In the reverse game this season, the Gombe club won 2-0 while Sharks won this corresponding fixture last term 5-2. I expect Sharks with the like of Ezioha Okereke, Christian Pyagbara, Isaac Loute and Tayo Fabiyi to win this.

My prediction: 1-0

Nasarawa United v Warri Wolves (Lafia Township Stadium)
In the first clash this term, Nasarawa United earned a 0-0 draw in Warri but have struggled to sustain their fine form at the start of this season. Wolves are competing for trophies on two fronts - the league and the Cup - and will want to keep the chase alive on table-topping Kano Pillars.

The Solid Miners might be on a four-game streak with no wins, I won't give them the cold shoulder in this tie.

My prediction: 2-1

Akwa United v Wikki Tourists (Uyo Township Stadium)
I don't know how basement boys, Wikki will survive in Uyo after Akwa United played themselves back into reckoning by defeating Warri Wolves in a grudge game on Wednesday.

If the Tourists must leave Uyo unhurt then they will have to take care of Mfon Udoh, Emmanuel Enize, Ezekiel Mba and Nnamso Edo. But I doubt they will re-enact the 2-0 win in Bauchi earlier this season.

My prediction: 2-1

ABS v Lobi Stars (Kwara State Stadium)
Lobi Stars won the reverse game in March via Joshua Abanyi's goal. For me, this is a dogfight as both teams are above the bottom four on superior goal difference.

This season ABS have been unconvincing except in their 3-0 win over Enyimba in which they blew the People's Elephant apart. In spite of their leggy display so far this term, I'll go for an ABS win.

My prediction: 1-0

Sunshine Stars v Dolphins (Akure Township Stadium)
Dolphins are the unnoticed team of this season and they've been quietly doing the business and are now five games unbeaten. The Akure Gunners have been strong at home but have dropped four points.

If Dele Olorundare plays, the odds favour him to get among the goals but I think the Pride of Rivers will eke out a point from their trip to Akure.

My prediction: 1-1

Heartland v Kwara United (Dan Anyiam Stadium)
In their last four league games, Kwara United are yet to win while Heartland have won once in their last five games. United won the first fixture this season by a goal off Najeem Olukokun's strike. But I envisage a tight contest and I'll give it to the Naze Millionaires to edge the Ilorin club.

My prediction: 1-0

Enugu Rangers v Kaduna United (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium)
Rangers look on course to take four points off Kaduna United this season after playing out a 1-1 draw in their first meeting this season.

The Crocodiles' season has been that of two parts - win at home and lose on the road. Rangers will be without Sunday Mba and Chigozie Agbim but that shouldn't stop them from seeing off Kaduna United.

My prediction: 2-0

Enyimba v Nembe City (Enyimba Sports Stadium)
Enyimba were four minutes away from a win at Nembe City in the reverse game until Uche Ugochukwu levelled the tie. City are surely in for a tough ride on Sunday afternoon in Aba in my own book.

Bobby Sokari, Michael Okoyoh, Olabiyi Rasheed, Andrew Abalogu, Bishop Onyeudo, Daniel Etor and Sibi Gwar offer Enyimba so much going forward. John Aranka's men will have to be on their toes to avoid losing by a big margin.

My prediction: 2-0

Bayelsa United v El-Kanemi Warriors (Samson Siasia Stadium)
This is my game of the matchday. Both teams are in the top six and one of them could drop below the top six after this weekend. El-Kanemi though with a run of four straight wins look like the side to suffer that slide.

Ladan Bosso have enough quality to earn the points for the Bayelsa club. The Warriors will give United a run for the points but players like Jafar Buhari, Bernard Okorowanta, Uche Ihuarulam, Samuel Agba and Peter Ebimobowei, if they feature, will make the difference.

My prediction: 1-0

•Out of the nine games on Matchday 23, The Predictor was on track getting seven correct results including just two exact scores.

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