NPFL Matchday 13 Previews: Nasarawa United versus Lobi Stars light up Lafia

Tayo Ajakaye/Shengolpixs
The fierce rivalry between the two neighbours will be rekindled in Lafia on Sunday among other interesting fixtures billed for weekend

Katsina United vs Heartland

This is the first encounter between these two teams in the topflight but the game slated for the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium, Katsina on Sunday is key to both sides desire to leave the relegation zone.

The Chanji Boys are two places above the Naze Millionaires who are in the 14th spot in the league log with 14 points and with over 95 percent of their results secured from their home fixtures they must battle desperately to chalk up the three available points with tougher games ahead against MFM and Akwa United.

Heartland on their part have got five points from their away games but their form at home has been abysmal with only eight points to show for their efforts from six matches played before their fans.

They have lost their last two matches against Lobi Stars and MFM and only a positive result will serve as a respite to Ramson Madu men whose coaching credentials was called to question after his last Sunday’s public rant in Lagos.

A loss in Katsina may hinge him closer to his dismissal with another tough fixture to negotiate against the Abdu Maikaba inspired Promise Keepers at midweek.


Nasarawa United vs Lobi Stars

This should serve as the star match of the weekend fixtures with the Solid Miners confronting league leaders, Lobi Stars in a battle of the North Central in Lafia on Sunday.

The tie between both teams have always been tight and in fact, only six goals have been scored from the last four fixtures involving both teams in the last two seasons with the Kabiru Dogo men having an advantage with two wins and a draw.

Both are having contrasting fortunes since the start of the season and on current form, the Pride of Benue seem to be the favourites but this fixture, from past precedents, have never been determined by form. Nasarawa United are in dire circumstances to record a home win to improve their placement in the league log which presently is not too good by their standards, while Lobi will fancy an away win to remain at the top of the table irrespective of results at the other match venues.

Nasarawa United players have been motivated ahead of this tie with the Man of the Match of the Sunday encounter expected to walk away with yet-to-be-revealed largesse while the visitors’ quest to continue to dictate the pace at the top is more than enough motivation for them going into the tie.


Abia Warriors vs Wikki Tourists

The Warriors will return back home for this fixture after they stayed away from the Umuahia Township Stadium for three weeks on the orders of the League Management Company who placed a suspension on the stadium turf until there is improvement.

They received the cheering news to face the Giant Elephants in time in the build up for this tie and they can only appreciate their fans with a home win.

Emmanuel Deutsch's Abia Warriors won’t want a repeat of what happened on Mach 23, 2016 when the tie ended goalless in Umuahia but they will hope for a similar result to that of last season when they whipped the tourists 2-0  before their fans.

 A home win will take the hosts above their weekend opponents and also further away from the drop zone while a draw could begin another slide into the relegation zone.

Wikki are still in search of their first away point of the season and they will be buoyed to surprise their hosts as they have secured important road point in Umuahia two seasons ago.


EL Kanemi Warriors vs FC Ifeanyiubah

Ladan Isa Bosso is going to a familiar terrain this weekend having just left Maiduguri for Nnewi where he now handles the Anambra Warriors after two seasons and he will hope to continue his impressive stats against his former clubs when they face the Borno Army on Sunday.

The former Flying Eagles’ handler has secured important points against his ex-clubs in the past but the present precarious position of El Kanemi Warriors makes it seem a tall order.

Imama Amapakabo's men are lying dangerously in 18th spot with 13 points and anything other than a win could be bad omen with the huge investment on the team by the Borno State Government.

The Nnewi side are also having a season to forget as the away draw against Rivers United remains their only road point from six games. They must show a massive improvement if they are to become the fourth side to stop El Kanemi from picking maximum points at home this season.


Sunshine Stars vs Yobe Desert Stars

New Owena Whales coach, Henry Abiodun will mark his managerial bow with the tie against the Premier League newcomers in Akure on Sunday and he will hope to start on a sound footing so as not to further compound the woes of the club.

The Akure Gunners were beaten by another topflight debutants, Go Round in Omoku last week and this led to the unceremonious exit of Duke Udi who has been told to step aside, and Abiodun who is not new to the job having coached the team some seasons back, faces an uphill task psyching his players up to aspire for a win they so much desire.

They have no choice but to win this weekend at the Ondo Sports Complex if they are to leave the relegation zone.


Kano Pillars vs Niger Tornadoes

Sai Masu Gida surrendered their eight matches unbeaten run in Damaturu last week after they were beaten 2-0 by Yobe Desert Stars and they are up against Ikon Allah Boys who are unbeaten in their last three matches in the topflight since the management disengaged former coach, Erasmus Onuh for Hamza Abara at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Monday.

Pillars have picked maximum points in all their home matches apart from the draw with Enyimba on February 18 and they are favourites to record their sixth win of the season from seven home matches which should be enough to restore them back to the summit of the league table with Lobi Stars, the present occupant of the first spot, playing away to Nasarawa United in a tough local derby.  

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Pillars’ talisman, Junior Lokosa was not fit enough to play the last game because of stomach upset in Damaturu on the eve of the game but he has since recovered and is poised for a return against Tornadoes where he will be hoping to score his 11th goal of the season.

Tornadoes’ impressive leap to 10th in the league table with 16 points from 12 matches is still a surprise to league purists after they lost five consecutive matches between matchdays three and seven. Everything seemed to have changed since the exit of Onuh and a point in Kano on Monday will see the Minna side taking very seriously by other clubs in the elite division.