Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Predictor – Title race in home stretch

The race for survival and for the title in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) enters their last 10 rounds of games after this matchday and I call it "the home stretch."

The affairs at the top and bottom of the standings have gone up and down in a ding-dong movement and could take a true shape in the final 10 games of the season. But Matchday 28 presents some high quality games that have feisty potentials written on them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Sharks v Wikki Tourists (Sharks Stadium)
Sharks will want to keep tightening the screw on securing their top flight status with this game after surrendering their five-game unbeaten run. Both teams played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture.

But Wikki are now on a run of three games unbeaten and will fancy their chances with the like of Alaba Johnson (pictured), Tunde Aremu and Shuaibu Ibrahim in good form recently. The Blue Angels have been churning out quality display themselves and I believe they will edge the Tourists in this contest.
 My prediction: 1-0

Nasarawa United v Dolphins (Lafia Township Stadium)
Kadiri Ikhana takes charge of his first home game with the basement boys, Nasarawa United after losing over the weekend at Gombe United. The hosts take a poor form guide of just a win in their last eight games into this contest.

Dolphins have not travelled well in their last two games and I really don't think they will find any joy in Lafia having lost there in the last two instalment with Nasarawa United.
My prediction: 1-0

3SC v El-Kanemi Warriors (Lekan Salami Stadium)
In their last two home games, 3SC have won by two-goal margin and those wins were against the top-two sides. Now they face another team in the top-three in El-Kanemi and I think 3SC will get the job done.

But El-Kanemi come with a squad full of quality from defence to attack. 3SC must be wary of Bukar Bamai, Ebube Okpokwu, Ezekiel Thompson and free-scoring Cameroonian Junior Rafael Boumsong. I expect a tight contest and 3SC will do enough to nick it.
My prediction: 2-1

ABS v Akwa United (Kwara State Stadium)
Saraki Boys are now condemned to win this tie or find themselves in the very deep end of the drop as they have three tough games against 3SC, El-Kanemi and Sunshine Stars coming up. In the first game against Akwa United, ABS squandered a two-goal lead in Uyo and cannot afford such this time team that have oiled their engine to battle the drop.

But ABS will face difficult opponents in Justin Tenger's men and will need to dig deep to win this and also defend well.
My prediction: 2-1

Sunshine Stars v Bayelsa United (Akure Township Stadium)
It's been an indifferent season for Sunshine Stars in which they've consistently hovered around the mid-table. But their opponents, now in second place on the log, are enjoying a fine spell since returning to the top flight this term.

As for home form, I won't bet against Sunshine Stars dropping points in this game.
My prediction: 3-1

Heartland v Kano Pillars (Dan Anyiam Stadium)
On paper this is my big game of the day but on form it is not. Rabiu Ali's goal earned the champions, Kano Pillars a 1-0 win in the first clash this season. However Pillars have not beaten Heartland in the league since a 2-0 win in December 2010.

My money is on Heartland to win this and convincingly too as the Kano club have caved in when they face the heavyweights in the NPFL this season.
My prediction: 3-0

Enugu Rangers v Lobi Stars (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium; live on SuperSport Select)
Rangers have blown hot and cold this season and their last three wins have been a bit scrappy which suggests a lull in form. By last season's standards both teams have done poorly this term for my money.

I'll put up my hand for Lobi to secure a point at such a difficult ground but they will be made to work for it.
My prediction: 1-1

Enyimba v Gombe United (Enyimba Sports Stadium)
Strangely this is my pick of the day. Both teams are in the top-six and Gombe United have a handful of talented youngsters in their ranks like Bilyaminu Aliyu, Habibu Inusa, Babangida Ibrahim and Ibrahim Chilli.

But against six-time champions, Enyimba I don't think they stand a chance especially with their poor away form all season in which they are yet to win a point. Enyimba will win this and also extend their home record of clean sheets.
My prediction: 2-0

Nembe City v Kwara United (Samson Siasia Stadium)
Goals from Kabiru Sanusi and Najeem Olukokun downed City in the reverse game in Ilorin this season. City are just a point above the bottom four going into this clash against Kwara United in fourth spot.

Kwara United face a side that have not conceded in their last four home games. I doubt if Samson Unuanel's men can take a point off Nembe City.
My prediction: 1-0

Warri Wolves v Kaduna United (Warri City Stadium)
Wolves have gone five straight games without a win and I'm sure that poor run will end this Wednesday when they take on Kaduna United who have struggled on the road all season without a point.

Ndubuisi Ekwuruibe since joining Kaduna United on loan from Enyimba has been in-form. He has scored three goals in his team's last three games. I expect him to give Wolves quite a schooling but it won't be enough to stop the Warri club from getting the full points.
My prediction: 2-1

•Matchday 27 was a buoyant outing for The Predictor who got nine results correct including five exact scores.

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