Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Predictor - NPFL top spot up for grabs

The race to finish the first round of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) continues this Sunday with table-toppers, Sharks in pole position to tighten their grip on their position. Enyimba, Warri Wolves and Nasarawa United are hot on Sharks' heels.
Title-holders Kano Pillars will have to wait for a few days after their game against Dolphins was called off following the death of the Emir of Kano on Friday.

The League Management Company (LMC) has also put on hold the El-Kanemi Warriors versus Enugu Rangers match which was scheduled as one of the double-header in Kano this weekend.

However, there will be matches involving clubs in the lower half of the standings and one of such games, Crown FC versus Bayelsa United, is live on SuperSport 9 this Sunday from 5pm CAT (4pm Nigerian time).

Crown FC v Bayelsa United (Lekan Salami Stadium)
Bayelsa United are in sixes and sevens on and off the pitch and I do not think they are in the right frame of mind ahead of this game. They have suffered defeats in all of their last four matches including a 0-3 capitulation at Warri Wolves in mid-week.

I envisage there could be a change in the goalkeeping position by Bayelsa United for this game as Gideon Gambo and Japheth Opubo did not cover themselves in glory in their last two outings. I think Crown FC have a chance of edging this game if their attacking personnel like Frank Ike Chukwujekwu, Bode Daniel, Onyekachi Okafor and co put their shoes on for this party.

My prediction: 3-2

Sharks v Akwa United (Sharks Stadium)
I am tipping Sharks to shake off the defeat from their last two matches including the 1-4 bashing at Kano Pillars to return to winning ways. But the Blue Angels should be prepared to work for the points against Akwa United who also got battered 1-4 by newcomers, Abia Warriors on Wednesday.

Akwa United could still without two of their influential players in Nnamso Edo and Ubong Ekpai for this match. Their defender Gwaza Iorliam is suspended for this game while Sharks will have Ibrahim Ajani back after his suspension. For me, Sharks are favourites going into this game.

My prediction: 2-1

Heartland v Lobi Stars (Dan Anyiam Stadium)
Heartland are on a roll. They have played three successive matches without defeat. The early season worries of the Naze Millionaires occupying a bottom-four position now look over as the like of Jolly Osas, Bright Ejike, Happy Okuoka and Saibou Badarou have lift the team in recent games.

As usual I am dismissing Lobi Stars ahead of this game. They are still yet to impress in their travels this season. In nine away matches, Lobi are yet to pick a point and I do not think they will leave the Dan Anyiam Stadium with a result.

My prediction: 2-0

Gombe United v FC Taraba (Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium)
This will be the last of three matches that Gombe United will play in Bauchi following their banishment for crowd trouble. The Savannah Scorpions have drawn their last two home matches and at the same time have been without a win in seven matches.

But the Scorpions have two of the best strikers in the country at the moment in Haruna Babalo and Adamu Mohammed and I am backing both men to give FC Taraba, who could still be without Luter Iyorhe and Tochukwu Esom, something to think about.

My prediction: 3-1

Nasarawa United v Abia Warriors (Lafia Township Stadium)
I have tried to figure out who is the main figure in the Nasarawa United setup but can hardly find one. Mohammed Baba Ganaru has in his usual style built the team as a unit so far with no clear cut big-name. But in their last two, three games the duo of Yaro Bature and Tony Edjomariegwe have stood out for me.

Abia Warriors will have to be in tip-top shape as the Solid Miners are strong at home. Only Akwa United have taken a point in Lafia this term. But Warriors, I call the 'Crazy Gang' are capable of anything. I am expecting a close contest in this one though the Miners look good for a ninth win of the season.

My prediction: 1-0

Nembe City v Sunshine Stars (Krisdera Hotel Stadium)
It is not looking rosy for City this season. They are in bottom place and are now eight points away from safety. And their biggest worry is that they have a poor goalscoring ratio in their last 10 matches in which they have managed to net just four times. In their 17 matches played, City have not scored twice in any of them unlike last season when they won this match 2-0.

I hear the pressure is now cranking up on Sunshine Stars gaffer, Henry Abiodun as he leads his men into this contest. For the Akure club, super-sub Muyiwa Lawal appears to be the only spark for them on the offensive but they will need more than that to get a result in Omoku this Sunday.

My prediction: 1-0

Enyimba v Giwa FC (Enyimba Stadium)
I am not expecting Giwa FC to pull off surprises in Aba in spite of being managed by a former Enyimba head coach, Kadiri Ikhana. Instead I fear for the 'Small Elephant' as I would call Giwa FC going into this game and with no disrespect.

I sense that the People's Elephant would trample on Giwa FC as the fear factor has hit the camp of the Jos in the wake of Ikhana's arrival. The new boys will have to work their socks out in order to stop in-form Mfon Udoh. I have no doubt Enyimba would wrap this up as they continue their push for a record seventh title.

My prediction: 4-0

Kaduna United v Warri Wolves (Kaduna Township Stadium)
I am sure third from bottom placed Kaduna United will seek their woeful run of no wins in the top flight against Wolves since March 2012. I must say the quality of display from the Crocodiles compared to Wolves this season leaves them in the lurch going into this match.

I find it difficult to see Wolves losing in Kaduna considering their recent form and those of their players like Gbolahan Salami, Stanley Dimgba, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, Michael Egbeta and Austin Amutu.

My prediction: 2-2

•For the second consecutive match day in the Nigerian top flight The Predictor records seven correct results including two exact scores.

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