NPFL Matchday 11 Previews: Can Kano Pillars reclaim top spot against Go Round?

Jimoh Isiaka@Shengolpixs
Sai Masu Gida are eyeing a return to the summit of the league against Ngozi Elechi's men among other explosive matches slated for Sunday

Abia Warriors vs Kwara United

It is the battle of the basement clubs in Omoku as the Warriors file out against the Harmony Warriors at the Krisdera Hotel Stadium on Sunday. The game should have taken place in Umuahia but the suspension placed on the Umuahia Township Stadium by the League Management Company has made it imperative for Emmanuel Deutsch's side to seek alternate venue.

Abia Warriors are looking for only their second win from their last seven games on Sunday and are currently 16th in the league table with 11 points while John Obuh's  tutored Kwara United lost their last home game against Rivers United last weekend after they held Nasarawa United to an impressive 3-3 draw in Lafia barely seven days earlier. It is a must-win for the Ilorin side with the three matches ultimatum on the technical crew taking effect from this tie. They are last in the league log with 10 points from 10 matches.


El Kanemi Warriors vs Niger Tornadoes

The Borno Army desperately need a win to ensure they zoom out of the relegation zone. They have beaten the Ikon Allah Boys in their last two meetings in Maiduguri and they could be third time lucky on Sunday if they manage to record a home win.

They have not had the best of start they envisaged under coach Imama Amapakabo and anything other than the maximum points could force the management of the Maiduguri side to start reviewing their association with the Super Eagles’ assistant coach. They are presently 17th in the league table with 11 points from 10 games.

Tornadoes have begun to improve steadily since the exit of former coach, Erasmus Onuh after their 2-0 loss to Rivers United in Port Harcourt two weeks ago. They defeated Abia Warriors 2-0 in an assured performance before their fans in Minna last week and they will be fired up to shake El Kanemi under the guard of Hamza Abara who is an interim coach.

They will fancy their chances at the El Kanemi Sports Complex with their hosts only managing an underwhelming 2-1 home win over league debutants, Go Round two weeks ago.


Heartland vs Lobi Stars

The Naze Millionaires have won and drawn one in the Pride of Benue’s last two visits to Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri in recent years. They were held to a goalless draw in September 2015 but managed a slim 1-0 win on March 6, 2016.

With the Sunday game taking place on a neutral ground at the Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium, Nnewi after the suspension on the Dan Anyiam Stadium by the League Management Company, Heartland must double up their output if they are to walk away with the vital win at the end of the 90 minutes.

Ramson Madu's men must conquer the Makurdi side if they do not want to court the drop zone as they are only two points away from the relegation zone with 13 points from nine games. The fact that their next three fixtures are away games should give them something to worry about too.

The Pride of Benue are coming into this tie on the back of two unbeaten matches including a massive goalless draw against MFM in Lagos and a crucial home win against Akwa United which has taken them to third in the league table with 17 points from 10 matches.

Coach Solomon Ogbeide has turned Lobi Stars to a difficult side to beat and they will go into the Sunday tie billed for Nnewi with high hope that they could shock their hosts.


Kano Pillars vs Go Round

The dust is gradually settling down in Kano since the demise of Chinedu Udoji almost two weeks ago and Sai Masu Gida will use the game against the league debutants to reclaim top spot in the league table after they relinquish it on Wednesday to Plateau United.

The league reigning champions defeated Enugu Rangers 1-0 in a rescheduled league tie to assume the summit of the league with 18 points from nine games and are a point better than Pillars. The Ibrahim Musa led Sai Masu Gida will still count on Junior Lokosa to get the goals with the player’s nine goals haul accounting for more than 80 percent of the tally they have recorded in total. They have scored 13 goals from 10  games. They are poised to extend their unbeaten run to eight matches after Sunday clash at the Sani Abacha Stadium.

Go Round are finding the topflight harder than they could imagine and are 19th in the league table with 10 points from nine games. Ngozi Elechi side didn’t play any game last weekend as their home tie with Plateau United was postponed with the Jos side returning late from Cameroon where they were involved in a Caf Champions League tie and they will be fresh when they trade tackles with Pillars on Sunday. They narrowly lost 2-1 to El Kanemi Warriors two weeks ago in Maiduguri in a match nobody gave them any chance at all. Despite being underdogs against the four times league champions, the Omoku side could make it difficult for Pillars to return to the top of the league because they need a positive result so that they won’t plunge deeper into the drop zone.


Nasarawa United vs Wikki Tourists

The Solid Miners are at the wrong end of the league table and Kabiru Dogo and his players will be eager than ever to return to winning ways.

 They are yet to win a game in the last four matches and they will be keen to banish the ghost of their last home result where they let slip a 3-1 lead to record a 3-3 draw.

They are up against the Giant Elephants who are yet to secure any point away from home and were held to a draw in their last game against Katsina United in Jos.

Nasarawa United have always been late starters but their result in the current campaign is giving Isaac Danladi, the chairman of the club a lot to worry about. They are presently 18th in the league log with 10 points from 10 games.

It will be hard for Bala Nikyu men to survive the heat in Lafia on Sunday. Results have really been hard on them especially in the last two games where they were only few minutes away from recording four points but ended up with only a point from their visit to Owerri against Heartland and their home game with Katsina United. Will they be lucky in Lafia?


Sunshine Stars vs Enugu Rangers

The Owena Whales slipped out of the relegation zone for the first time in the last two weeks after they defeated MFM 2-1 in a rearranged fixture played on Wednesday in Akure and they could leave the drop zone for good with another home win against the Flying Antelopes on Sunday.

Duke Udi and his men should be commended from how they have managed the negative events around the team in recent weeks including the points’ deduction from the League Management Company over the unruly behaviour of their fans in their home draw with Kano Pillars on February 11. They are currently 15th in the league table with 12 points from 10 games.

Besides the goalless draw recorded by the Enugu side on October 21, 2015, Sunshine Stars have won their last three fixtures against the Sunday foes including the famous 5-1 win in Akure on November 4, 2015, and the home team should nick it too this term even though it might be by a slim margin.

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Enugu Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw after Kano Pillars struck at the death through Junior Lokosa to cancel out Godwin Aguda’s first-half lead and the Gbenga Ogunbote tutored side will come to Akure with their sights on making amends for the home’s lost points. Ogunbote is not new to the Akure Gunners after he left the side some six seasons ago and this will be key to Rangers’ quest to pick away points.

They were very close to nicking a point in Jos against Plateau United before another late goal confined them to another defeat. They must do everything to avoid another slump as their 14 points from 10 matches is only good for the ninth spot but are only three points from the drop zone.