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As the NPL enters it penultimate week, the battle for the top spot intensifies among the teams leading the pack. Goal.com examines the chances of the three teams as the season ends

ANALYSIS
By Emeka Nwani | NPL Editor

The 2011/12 season of the Nigeria Premier League is just two games to its end but the winner will not be known until the last day as the league table shows.

The teams have been through a tedious 36 weeks of jostling for points from various corners of the country. At this point, only three clubs have the chance to win the trophy and until the last second of the last game, nobody can say which of these clubs will lift the trophy.

Enugu Rangers, Lobi Stars and Kano Pillars are the teams in the running and the top of the table is so tight that permutations will continue until the last seconds of the final day. Rangers are presently on top with 61 points, just like Kano Pillars who also have 61 points with an inferior goals difference while Lobi Stars hold the third spot with 60 points.

Players from the three clubs continue to wax confident over the fact that their team will nick the trophy at the end of the season.

Rangers’ captain James Okwuosa revealed that the Enugu side has all the potential to become champions of the League.

"We have come a long way this season and we cannot miss this trophy after 29 years of not winning the League title. We have a good team, we have done well and there is nothing stopping us," said Okwuosa.

Lobi Stars midfielder, David Tyavkase is optimistic that they will beat Rangers in their week 37 match at home in Katsina Ala and thereafter travel to Kaduna to snatch another away win to be crowned champions.

“I am confident we can pull it off because we have a very good team that has done well this season," Tyavkase boasted.

Kano Pillars midfielder, Reuben Gabriel said Rangers and Lobi Stars should not count their chickens before they are hatched.

"Nobody should write us off. The fact that we are playing our last two matches away from home does not mean we cannot win the two matches and thereafter emerge the best team this season. We are going to shock all football pundits," Gabriel added.

Goal.com takes a look at the realistic chances of the three clubs in the battle to lift

HOW RANGERS CAN WIN

Rangers have done well this season. They have been able to hold on until the last two games of the season.

They have two games to go. In Katsina Ala, they would face their toughest game this season when they play Lobi Stars who are also battling to win the trophy.

They will play their final game at home against Sharks.

Rangers can only win the trophy if they get a good result against Lobi Stars in Katsina Ala and then win their last home game.

If they get a draw, they would have succeeded in slowing Lobi Stars down and they can wrap it up on the last day.

But if Rangers lose to Lobi Stars, the Makurdi side will overtake them on the log with 63 points. The Enugu side will now have to pray that Lobi Stars lose their last game in Kaduna and for them to beat Sharks and end the season on 64 points.

HOW KANO PILLARS CAN WIN

Football watchers have said that Kano Pillars play the best brand of football in the Nigeria Premier League. Coach Baba Ganaru is confident that they can steal the show with the last two games of the season.

Kano Pillars with 61 points will play their last two matches away from home. They will travel to Uyo to take on Akwa United and then finish the season with another away game against Sunshine Stars in Ijebu Ode.

Kano Pillars must get decent results in the two away games. They must win one of the away games and also get a draw to take their points haul to 65 and pray that Rangers and Lobi Stars will not get the maximum points in their two games.

The only way Kano Pillars will not have any problem lifting the trophy is if they beat Akwa United and Sunshine Stars and end the season on 67 points.

HOW LOBI STARS CAN WIN

Lobi Stars have turned out to be the dark horses this season. Nobody gave them a chance that they would finish amongst the top three teams, but the Makurdi side have continued to look like a team that might just nick the trophy on the final day.

Presently with 60 points, they host Rangers in the next game and can just finish it up with a win away to Kaduna United.

Lobi Stars will have to beat Rangers in Katsina Ala to increase their points haul to 63 and then get another three points in Kaduna to end the season on 66 points.

Lobi Stars, just like Kano Pillars, must win the remaining two games to have any hope of landing the trophy this season

Nobody can predict what will happen in the last games. But the unpredictability of the Nigeria Premier League makes it a drama till the end.

One thing is sure though - the winner of the Nigeria Premier League can only be determined at the end of the week 38 matches.

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