|Dolphins in team photo|
The Nigerian premier division will now commence with 18 clubs after Giwa FC and Nembe City were shown the exit door by the League Management Company (LMC) following their inability to meet the substantial minimum requirement for registration.
However, just five games will get underway this Saturday and Sunday since Bayelsa United, Enyimba and Warri Wolves are all on continental duties. Their games will now take place on Thursday.
Two games from Umuahia and Owerri will also be live on SuperSport 9 this Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
FC Taraba v Nasarawa United (Jolly Nyame Stadium)
FC Taraba will play their first game in the top flight since being founded in 2007 when they were known as SEC. They will go up against an experienced Nasarawa United, who hired Premier League-winning manager, Mohammed Baba Ganaru in the off-season.
It is going to be a close game to call and I think the Solid Miners can pull off a draw in this clash though they will have to be on their toes to keep Abdulmalik Mohammed, who scored 14 goals for FC Taraba in the National League last season, at bay.
My prediction: 1-1
Abia Warriors v Kaduna United (Umuahia Township Stadium; live on SS9)
This is one of the two live matches for the opening day. Warriors will take their bow in their first season in the top flight under the guidance of experienced coach Ladan Bosso, who surprisingly joined from Bayelsa United last month.
The Warriors have hired a few experienced stars in Emmanuel Fabiyi, Ogbonnaya Okemmiri, Chidozie Johnson Abdulwasiu Showemimo, Stanley Okoronkwo and Beninoise Judicael Kuassi. Warriors look good on paper and for me, they will start life in the premier division with a win.
My prediction: 2-0
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Lobi Stars v Crown FC (Emmanuel Atongo Stadium)
In the last two top flight clashes between both sides in 2010 and 2011, Lobi Stars won by identical scorelines of 1-0. I believe this will be a tough start for Crown FC, returning to the Glo Premier League for the first time since they were relegated in the 2010/11 season.
Katsina-Ala is such a tough venue and I won't place a bet against Lobi Stars who have added former 3SC playmaker, Philip Asuquo and Ukeyima Akombo to their playing personnel. Lobi should get the full points.
My prediction: 3-1
Heartland v Dolphins (Dan Anyiam Stadium; live on SS9)
This is the other live game for the opening day and I expect it to produce some key battles. Heartland have never dropped a point to Dolphins in this same fixture since 2003. Unfortunately for Dolphins they are yet to score at Heartland in 11 years and in seven matches.
With Kelechi Emeteole back in the dugout for Heartland, I don't think Dolphins really do stand a chance of taking a result away from Owerri.
My prediction: 1-0
Akwa United v Gombe United (Uyo Township Stadium)
Last season, Gombe United did not win a single point on the road losing all 19 games. This season Maurice Cooreman intends to change that and has signed Nigeria international goalkeeper, Chigozie Agbim, Sanusi Sani, Haruna Babalo, Adamu Mohammed and Cameroon defender, Saidou Moussa.
In spite of having bolstered his squad for this season, Cooreman knows it is going to be a tough outing in Uyo against Akwa United. "We don't expect an easy game but we want to get a good result away," he told Naijaligue.blogspot.com.
Gombe United have lost in their last five visits to Uyo including a 2-3 loss last season. The Promise Keepers should edge this contest.
My prediction: 1-0