Friday, October 18, 2013

The Predictor - Title-deciding day is here

After 370 games in 37 match days in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with 750 goals scored averaging two goals per game, the title race is now down to just three teams - champions Kano Pillars, Bayelsa United and El-Kanemi Warriors.

At the start of the season, I had picked three teams - Enyimba, Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers - as my title contenders and made Enyimba favourites to land the league trophy but the quest of the Aba club for a record seventh title only lasted for 37 match days.

This Sunday, one of Kano Pillars, Bayelsa United and El-Kanemi Warriors will be crowned champions of Nigeria for the 2012/13 season. But I tip the champions to retain their title.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lobi Stars v Kano Pillars (Emmanuel Atongo Stadium)

Kano Pillars have not taken a point in their last nine away games. The last time the champions earned a point on the road was on June 8 at Dolphins.

I believe Lobi will take no chances in seeing off Pillars in this as they are in a race for survival. In the last two seasons, the Kano club have lost by identical scorelines of 0-1 in this corresponding fixture, so I'll go for a Lobi win.

My prediction: 2-0

Enugu Rangers v El-Kanemi Warriors (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium)

This is one of my picks of the final day. For me, El-Kanemi remain the surprise team of the season irrespective of what followers of the league say about their home form. They've also put up a decent run on the road too.

But this is where the fairy tale run ends for the Warriors. El-Kanemi do not have a good record in Enugu as they've lost in their last three previous without scoring a goal. Though Rangers are playing for pride, I don't think they'll show El-Kanemi any favour.

My prediction: 2-0

Gombe United v Bayelsa United (Pantami Stadium)

Bayelsa United go into this game needing an outright win to stand any chance of edging Kano Pillars for the title. But the town of Gombe has not been a fruitful centre for the Restoration Boys who have lost in all four previous trips.

The Bayelsa club are always capable of pulling off surprises but this time I doubt that happening as they will have to contend with the impressive Gombe United trio of Babangida Ibrahim, Habibu Inusa and Sani Mohammed.

My prediction: 2-0

Enyimba v Sharks (Enyimba Stadium; live on SS9)

Six-time champions Enyimba will be disappointed that they blew their chance of winning the double this season after their leggy display in Akure against Sunshine Stars in mid-week. But they've got the chance to finish in second place and win a Caf Champions League spot and at the same time protect their run of not conceding at home this season.

Gbenga Ogunbote has proven that he is a miracle worker after securing top flight football for Sharks against all odds. But can the Blue Angels breach the steely back line of Enyimba in Aba on the final day? I would say 'NO.'

My prediction: 1-0

Nasarawa United v Heartland (Lafia Township Stadium)

Heartland will again keep their top flight status for more than three decades as they head to Lafia to face the Solid Miners who are in dire need of the full points to escape the drop to the lower division.

Nasarawa United last defeated Heartland in a league match in February 2008 and that same year lost three-nil to the Owerri club in this corresponding fixture. But that will not count this time as I expect Victor Namo, Habu Mohammed, Solomon Babatunde, Malachy Ilo and company to cause Heartland problems on the day.

My prediction: 3-0

Nembe City v Sunshine Stars (Samson Siasia Stadium)

I still don't know how City can turn around their very inferior goal difference to escape the drop in spite of playing hosts to Sunshine Stars this Sunday. After their 1-6 drubbing in the hands of ABS in mid-week, Nembe City will surely return to winning ways against Sunshine Stars who have managed to take just three points on the road this season.

But I doubt if the win for City can save them from the fall though and that will depend on the outcome of other results involving eight other clubs in the battle for survival.

My prediction: 2-0

Warri Wolves v ABS (Warri City Stadium)

The Seasiders have lost their last three league games to 3SC, Akwa United and Bayelsa United and I'm electing them to end the season with four straight losses. I'm sure ABS players know what is at stake in this game as a loss could signal an end to their time in the NPFL.

ABS have not beaten Wolves since a 1-0 win in January 2011. I know Kabiru Dogo's men will up their game to avoid losing twice to Wolves this season after a two-nil loss in the reverse fixture.

My prediction: 0-1

Kaduna United v 3SC (Kaduna United)

What is left of 3SC's season is a mathematical chance of survival if Kwara United, Wikki Tourists, Nasarawa United, Lobi Stars and Nembe City, all on 49 points, fail to win or draw and they defeat Kaduna United.

Realistically 3SC's season looks all but over especially with Kaduna United sitting in 14th spot and just a point above the drop zone. I don't expect the Crocodiles to drop points in this game as keeping their top flight place will be paramount to them. Sadly 3SC will be relegated.

My prediction: 3-1

Kwara United v Akwa United (Confluence Stadium)

It might sound strange but this is my pick of the match day as both teams battle it out in this dogfight at the foot of Mount Patti in Lokoja. The losers of this clash could find themselves relegated to the Nigeria National League (NNL).

It's amazing that Kwara United find themselves battling for survival after putting up eye-catching outings especially in the first round of this season. I expect this game to be quite a contest and I think Kwara United will edge Akwa United for the full points.

My prediction: 2-1

Dolphins v Wikki Tourists (Liberation Stadium)

As poor a team Dolphins have been this season I won't bat an eyelid should they win this. I fear Wikki are confirmed for the drop though they hold a three-game unbeaten run going into this clash.

It is totally hard for me to look beyond Stanley Eguma's men claiming all points against the Tourists. But Dolphins shouldn't expect it to be a walk in the park.

My prediction: 1-0

•For the second consecutive match day, The Predictor got nine correct results but managed just two exact scores from the nine correct results.

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