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NPFL Previews: Plateau United and Sunshine Stars lock horns in Jos

21:55 GMT 03/02/2018
Sunshine Stars vs Niger Tornadoes
The Peace Boys will aim to become the second team to beat the Owena Whales this season, among other exciting weekend topflight fixtures

Abia Warriors vs Enugu Rangers

Before last season, the Flying Antelopes took pride in their unbeaten record against the Warriors both home and away, but they lost twice to Abia Warriors last season to shatter that record. Ahead of another tie-in Umuahia this weekend, Enugu Rangers will be on a redemption mission to salvage something out of the fixture.

Rangers began the season poorly with two successive defeats but they have since bounced back and have recorded three victories in their last four games. The Flying Antelopes are eighth in the league standings and will hope to extend their newfound form with a share of the spoils on Sunday in Umuahia.

Abia Warriors are in dire need of a home win with only seven points from six games. They won their first two home games against MFM and Plateau United but they were held by Sunshine Stars at their fortress in their last game. They will be desperate for a win as anything other than could lead unrest to at the club as they are currently only a point away from the relegation zone.

 

Akwa United vs Wikki Tourists

The Promise Keepers will hope to round off preparation for their Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round, first leg tie against Gambians’ Hawks FC which comes up next weekend in Uyo, with a routine home win against the Giant Elephants. Akwa United under Abdu Maikaba have been experiencing a new order and are no longer relegation zone battlers like they were until two seasons ago. They finished fourth last season and narrowly missed the continental ticket via the league before they won the Federation Cup to capture Nigeria’s final berth in Africa club competitions.

They should have no problem dislodging Wikki Tourists whom they dispatched 3-0 and 2-0 respectively in their last two visits to Uyo in July, 2016 and June 14, 2017. Maikaba will fancy another vital win against the club he last worked with before coming to Akwa United.

Wikki Tourists have not been the same since the exit of Maikaba and after surviving demotion to the lower league last season, they have hinged their survival hope this term on their impressive home record. They have won all three games played at their adopted home in Jos but have been beaten thrice away also. It will be more than a tall order for them to halt Akwa United’s awesome run.
 

Plateau United vs Sunshine Stars

Not many still remembered that the Owena Whales shocked the Peace Boys 1-0 on November 20, 2010 in Jos and that they also held their hosts to a goalless draw on the same turf on May 8, 2016 in their hosts’ return season to the topflight after about five years in the lower league. All that have been forgotten now and lest for Sunshine Stars 3-1 win on September 10, 2016 in Akure, Plateau United have won the last two fixtures in Jos and Akure in January 22 and June 7 both last year and as league’s defending champions, Kennedy Boboye's side have grown in leap and are the overwhelming favourites to pick the available points again.

Boboye will have the honour of directly facing the club where he marked his managerial bow in the topflight with. After his near league title miss with the Akure side three seasons ago and his unpalatable experience with Abia Warriors two seasons ago, he led the Peace Boys to their first league title last season.

Sunshine under Duke Udi have commenced the season fairly impressively with two away points to their credit from three road games. The Akure Gunners have only been beaten once this season by Nasarawa United and Plateau United will sweat through 90 minutes if they are to become the second club to do that.
 

Heartland vs Kwara United

It is a win or burst for the Naze Millionaires on Sunday at the Dan Anyiam Stadium as they are still the only team yet to record a win in the league this season. They had the opportunity to prepare extra harder for the visit of the Harmony Warriors with their midweek tie with Niger Tornadoes shifted till next midweek following the request of their hosts.

It is a battle between two struggling teams in the elite division and another disappointing home result on Sunday could see the premier league recording its first managerial casualty of the season after the Owerri side endless wait for their first win of the season under Ramson Madu.

The intense pressure on Kwara United’s players and coaches have abated after their home win over Lobi Stars on Wednesday but this could be reignited by another defeat which will be their fifth loss of the season. John Obuh's men will draw inspiration from their penultimate visit to Owerri in August, 2013 when they ran away with a 1-0 victory. The tie is expected to be tight and goals few based on their previous matches.
 

Lobi Stars vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah

Both teams will be seeking their first win in three games on Sunday after the last two games between them had ended in draws in Makurdi and Nnewi in April and September last year. The Pride of Benue have run the rule on this fixture with two wins from their five meetings while the Anambra Warriors have triumphed once.

Lobi Stars have enough players to get the job done and thus shake off the defeat to Kwara United in Ilorin on Thursday.  A win could propel the Solomon Ogbeide side to the top three while a loss will see the Nnewi side in the drop zone.

FC Ifeanyi Ubah have been slow starters this season without any away point so far and another defeat in Makurdi could bring Ladan Bosso’s job under serious scrutiny as they are 12th in the league standings with seven points from six games while the hosts are in the hot chase for their fourth win of the campaign.

 

El Kanemi Warriors vs Enyimba

Paul Aigbogun's men have not been firing on all cylinders just like we expected as seven times winners of the league. They are seventh in the league standings with nine points from six games and must fight tooth and nail to avoid defeat if they are to gradually gain back the points lost at home to Heartland.

The Borno Army will still remember their last season’s misadventure to Calabar where they were trounced 4-0 by Enyimba on June 28, 2017 and they should be on vengeful mission as the Aba giants visit the El Kanemi Sports Complex on Sunday. They won the same tie last season 1-0 and a similar result on Sunday will take them further away from the relegation zone.

 

Katsina United vs Niger Tornadoes 

The Chanji Boys are ahead in the head to head results between both teams after they met for the first time twice last season in the Katsina side’s debut season in the topflight. They held the Ikon Allah Boys to a draw in Lokoja last year’s February while they pipped them 1-0 in the return leg tie in June, 2017.

Katsina United have recovered from their opening day draw to Kano Pillars at home and have recorded two successive wins at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium against Enyimba and Go Round and are fancied to grab their third victory against inconsistent Tornadoes’ side on Sunday.

It is so strange how worse Erasmus Onuh and his wards’ results have turned since they won their opening two games of the season including the away win in Ilorin against Kwara United. They have picked zero points from their last three games and are not favourites to secure anything from this tie too.

They still have a rescheduled home tie on Wednesday against Heartland whatever happens with the weekend tie in Katsina.

Abdullahi Biffo and his boys will go all out for the coveted three points that should take them further than their current 11th spot in the table with seven points while another defeat could spark off a row among Tornadoes’ faithful.
 

Nasarawa United vs Yobe Desert Stars

The Solid Miners capitulated in Omoku last Wednesday to lose 2-1 to Go Round in a game they thought they had a point wrapped up and the loss has seen them slide to 18th spot in the log with six points but Yobe Desert Stars on their part beat Katsina United 1-0 to move to the top six with 10 points in their premiere season in the topflight.

Kabiru Dogo and his men have had a nightmarish start to the season just like it has been in the past three seasons and they will be under intense pressure to beat the Mohammed Babaganaru led side. They were beaten by Plateau United at home and Enugu Rangers were very close to leaving Lafia with a point until the late drama and another underwhelming result could trigger an unrest in the team.
 

Rivers United vs Go Round

The Pride of Rivers will step out for this tie on Sunday aware that they are 16th in the league standings with seven points while their neighbours are just a step above them with the same seven points from six games.

This fixture will remind Port Harcourt faithful about the rivalry and local derbies involving Sharks and Dolphins before the merger two years ago. Both Rivers United and Go Round have been inconsistent and anything other than a home win could lead to questions being asked about the future of Stanley Eguma whose last two seasons at the helms have been anything but impressive.

Ngozi Elechi will take his wards to the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt hoping that their familiarity with the turf will hand them their first topflight away points.