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NPFL Matchday 6 Previews: FC Ifeanyiubah, Akwa United renew rivalry in Nnewi

11:11 GMT+3 31/01/2018
Akwa United vs. Enugu Rangers
The Anambra Warriors and the Promise Keepers will slug it out in the battle of last two winners of the Federation Cup among other fixtures

FC Ifeanyiubah – Akwa United

This is unarguably one of three outstanding fixtures of Matchday Six and it features the last two winners of the Federation Cup facing each other at the Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium, Nnewi.

The Anambra Warriors have maintained their 100 percent record at home against the Promise Keepers and they are yet to concede ago at home against their midweek opponents since the first time they met on August 26th, 2015. They will fancy a fourth straight home win at their fortress.

Akwa United on their part are on a roll having won their last three games and are presently first in the league standings with 12 points after five games. The Uyo side will be targeting their first goal in Nnewi on Wednesday.

Kwara United- Lobi Stars

The hosts are condemned to win this tie if the players are to save the job of their coach, John Obuh who has been under intense pressure since they were beaten at home by Niger Tornadoes in the opening fixture off the season.

The Harmony Warriors have won this tie at home twice and drew twice also since they met for the first time in April, 2010 duirng the Nigeria professional Football League era.

Lobi Stars will hope for similar results they got in Ilorin in September 2013 and June, 2015 when they walked away with a point each when they face same opposition on Wednesday.

On current form the Pride of Benue who are third in the league standings should have this tie done and dusted but with the current tension pervading the home team, heads may start to roll if the hosts do not seal the maximum points.

Niger Tornadoes- Heartland

This tie has been shifted till February 7 after the owner of the home ground of the Ikon Allah Boys-the Kogi Government wrote that the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja would be fully engaged on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The League Management Company has accepted to shift the league date and it now comes up a week from now.

Yobe Desert Stars- Katsina United

These two teams will be meeting for the first time in the topflight and both will be eager to create a good first impression when they trade tackles on Wednesday at the August 27 Stadium, Damaturu.

Coach of the hosts, Mohammed Babaganaru is blessed with the arrays of players with premier league experience even though the team is in its debut season in the NPFL. With the way they dispatched Lobi Stars at home to dent their unbeaten start to the season and the morale boosting away draw in Owerri against Heartland FC, it will be difficult for the Chanji Boys to pick anything from this tie.

The Chanji Boys have very young players to call upon under the guide of Abdullahi Biffo and they have been boosted by the return of Chinedu Udechukwu who was their highest scorer last season. The striker decided to end his strike after it was obvious Katsina United do not want him to leave for a rival club.

Go Round – Nasarawa United

The Omoku based side are in dire need of another home win to stabilize them in the league standings after their 3-0 loss to Katsina United last weekend.

Lobi Stars attested to their brave performance in Makurdi two weeks ago but it seemed they are yet to recover from their home draw to Heartland and team coach, Ngozi Elechi must strive to bring the best out of his players to ensure that the maximum points is achieved and which slightly move them out of the relegation zone.

Nasarawa United survived a late scare at home to Enugu Rangers on Monday to run away with a 2-1 win and they will be in search of their first away points of the season to atone for their home loss to Plateau United on the opening day of the season.

It is the debut match between both teams in the topflight and the winner will have the bragging right before the return leg is played later in the season.

Enugu Rangers – Rivers United

This is the undoubted Star Match of the Week because of the history between both teams. Seven league titles have been won by the Flying Antelopes alone and the Pride of Rivers while still under the name Dolphins and Eagle Cement have won the league crown thrice too.

Rangers’ highest point of this fixture was 4-0 on September 4, 2016 on their way to winning their seventh title while and their lowest was a 1-1 draw secured on August 23, 2015.

So much will be at stake on Thursday in Enugu with both teams yet to impress this season based on their position in the league standings and with the dramatic last minute loss of Rangers in Lafia on Monday, they will be more than fire up to target a home win against their visitors.

Gbenga Ogunbote who is the new coach of the Flying Antelopes and ever present Stanley Eguma know each other too well and the battle may be won from the bench.

Enyimba- Abia Warriors

This is the ninth Abia derby and the fifth to be hosted by the People’s Elephant since the Umuahia side gained promotion to the elite division in 2014. The tie between both teams have been hotly contested since Abia Warriors, then as premier league debutants, shocked Enyimba 1-0 in Aba in 2014.

The last two derbies which Enyimba hosted have been played outside Aba because of the work on the Enyimba International Stadium but they have managed to win both games narrowly. They do not have much choice other than a home win in Calabar this term with the People’s Elephant’s currently 15th in the league standings with six points from five games.

It is also a do or die affair for Abia Warriors who were held at home by Sunshine Stars last Sunday and with only a point separating the seventh in the log to 17th a loss to their neighbours could see them fall closer to the drop zone after mid week games.

Sunshine Stars- El Kanemi Warriors

The Owena Whales have almost dominated this tie in the past and their 5-0 and 3-0 annihilation of the Borno Army in August, 2015 and April, 2016 will be fresh on the visitors’ minds when they slug it out on Wednesday at the Ondo Sports Complex, Akure.

El Kanemi Warriors had a near perfect pre-season activities and it is difficult to tell why the team has not started the season very well aside the fact that they do not have their coach, Imama Amapakabo (who is away in Morocco with the CHAN Eagles) available. They will pray for a close contest like it was when they last met last season when Sikiru Alimi’s strike separated both them from their hosts.  

Even though Sunshine Stars had some issues with their pre-season activities,  the retention of coach Duke Udi has helped to steadied the team and they will like to consolidate on their second away point of the season with a home win against El Kanemi who have lost all their away matches thus far and were even held at home by Kano Pillars last weekend.

Kano Pillars- Plateau United

Sai Masu Gida have been irrepressible since the start of the pre-season and they carried on their form into the season with two away draws already recorded after five games. It was no mean feat that they were able to stop El Kanemi Warriors in Maiduguri.

Plateau United too have been very brilliant and daring since the season kicked off despite their far from impressive pre-season programmes. They are second in the league table with 12 points only to their inferior goals difference to Akwa United and they will be hoping for the same result they had in Kano last season when they picked a draw at the Sani Abacha Stadium.

Kano Pillars should nick a home win this term but it will be hard for them to replicate the 5-1 thumping they recorded at home against the same opponents in December, 2010.

Pillars are doing a marvelous job under coach Ibrahim Musa while Kennedy Boboye who is in charge of the league reigning champions has shown through his early season performances that he still has the midas touch to lead the Jos’ Peace Boys to the league crown again.

MFM – Wikki Tourists

The Olukoya Boys are in their third season in the topflight but they have made an impression which will last through a decade with the Caf Champions League ticket they secured last season under the noses of teams like Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Akwa United and other top clubs.

But they are struggling in the league this season having lost three away matches thus far and they have been slowed down thus far by the minor road crash they had on Sunday when they were returning from Jos where they were beaten 1-0.

MFM won the two previous encounters they had at home against the Giant Elephants by the odd goal and they must aspire to win again if they are to remain in reckoning at all. Their present 17th spot in the league standings does not bode well as a Nigerian representative on the continent.

Wikki Tourists won’t also like to be a tourist as they seek consolidation on their home win over FC Ifeanyiubah last weekend.