Nigeria League Preview: Title contenders face tricky away matches

Kano Pillars of Kano
Kano Pillars league champions

The title contenders in the Glo Premier League will face tricky opponents on Sunday when MatchDay 36 takes place. The top three teams, Kano Pillars, Warri Wolves and Enyimba, on the league table all play on the road.

Already Nembe City have dropped to the second tier from the look of the table, and they play hosts to Enyimba in Omoku, while Wolves go up against Sharks in the Garden City and defending champions, Kano Pillars, face tough as nails El-Kanemi Warriors in their Kano lair but as the visitors.

The match day is not all about the teams in the title and survival races, as the top marksmen are also up to grab more goals with top scorer, Emem Eduok of Dolphins just two goals away from setting a new individual record on Sunday when his team play at relegation-threatened Bayelsa United.

Lobi Stars vs Akwa United
Venue: Emmanuel Atongo Stadium, Katsina-Ala
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

Akwa United start the match day on 12th position while Lobi are in seventh. But Lobi come off a 2-0 loss at FC Taraba and Akwa United were able to edge Bayelsa United 1-0 thanks to Aniekpeno Udoh’s goal.

Akwa United will need to step up a notch when they face Lobi in Katsina-Ala which has become a fortress of some sorts for the Makurdi-based club. Lobi lost in the first meeting in Uyo by 1-0 through Kufre Ebong’s second half goal, and will bank on their home form to claim the full points.

Heartland vs FC Taraba
Venue: Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

Jalingo-based FC Taraba head to the southeast, where they face Heartland in their bid to ease the fear of dropping into the relegation with just three matches to conclude the season. In their first-ever top flight clash with Heartland they won 1-0 in Jalingo with Tochukwu Esom scoring. But Esom is now in the books of the champions, Kano Pillars.

It will therefore be a different contest in Owerri, where Heartland are kings. FC Taraba have failed to score in their last 10 away matches, and they will need to do better than that against one of the best defending teams in the league this season.

Crown FC vs Abia Warriors
Venue: Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

The two teams are among the four promoted to the top division this season, and the story has been contrasting with Abia Warriors aiming to claim a continental ticket and Crown struggling for survival. Crown’s bid to beat the drop took a big hit on Wednesday when they suffered a 7-1 defeat at Wolves. They have now gone seven games without a win.

Ladan Bosso and his Abia Warriors will be rubbing their palms as they will hope to cash in on Crown’s recent poor form. In the first clash in Umuahia, Warriors defeated Crown 3-0 through goals from Bishop Onyeudo, Peter Onyekachi and Ndifreke Effiong. Can the Umuahia-based club become the third side to win at Crown this season after Lobi Stars and Rangers?

Sharks vs Warri Wolves
Venue: Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

Wolves were ruthless in mid-week when they dismantled struggling Crown 7-1, but they now face Sharks in a tricky tie after the first clash between the two sides ended 1-1 in Warri in May. Last season, this same match was one of the opening games of Match Day 1 and Sharks edged Wolves 2-1.

This is expected to be an interesting match as the two teams have two men who are in the race for the top scorer. Wolves have Gbolahan Salami, who has scored 16 goals and Sharks can bank on Christian Pyagbara on 14 goals.

Gombe United vs Rangers
Venue: Pantami Stadium, Gombe
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

In the first clash in Enugu, the two teams played out a 3-3 draw, and Rangers striker, Osaguona Ighodaro, scored a hat-trick in that game. He is one of the marksmen in the league eyeing the goal king crown having scored 16 goals. Certainly the Super Eagles striker will be a marked man in Sunday’s game in Gombe.

Gombe United are also not short of quality though as Adamu Mohammed will be looking to hit double figures after netting nine times this season so far. Rangers last won a league game at Gombe United in 2007 when they edged the Savannah Scorpions 1-0. This will be their 21st meeting in the premier league era, as the Scorpions seek to sting their way out of the relegation zone.

Nasarawa United vs Sunshine Stars
Venue: Lafia Township Stadium, Lafia
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

Muyiwa Lawal’s late goal in the first round clash broke a tough-defending Nasarawa United side. Nasarawa United are six points behind league leaders, Kano Pillars but also have an outstanding game to play against Giwa FC.

Both teams feel winning a continental spot remains their objective this season, and it is Nasarawa United who have their noses in front to achieve that feat. But they will have to show it against Sunshine, who have only lost only once in their last last three trips to Lafia.

Kaduna United vs Giwa FC
Venue: Kaduna Township Stadium, Kaduna
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

Kaduna United suffered a 4-0 bashing when they first met Giwa FC in Jos this season. Shuaibu Ibrahim scored three and Charles Okoro netted once to complete the rout on May 25.

The Kaduna-based club have gone six matches without a win and have only taken one point in the last 18 while Giwa FC have drawn all of their last two concluded matches. This game could be a case of who blinks first or who endures more.

El-Kanemi Warriors vs Kano Pillars
Venue: Kano Pillars Stadium, Kano
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

It was a close game when the two teams met in the reverse fixture on the same ground with Kano Pillars winning 2-1 from Adamu Hassan’s brace and El-Kanemi’s Chadian import, Hassan Hissein scoring in between the brace. Pundits believe that this game could determine the title race.

But El-Kanemi have shown they are a tough team to crack open with their strong defensive unit that has conceded 28 goals – the third best defensive team in the league. The Warriors will have to cope with the striking threat of Hassan, Mannir Ubale, Rabiu Ali, Esom, Philip Auta, Ezekiel Mbah and Bello Musa Kofarmata.

Nembe City vs Enyimba
Venue: Krisdera Hotel Stadium, Omoku
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

Enyimba have never lost in the elite division to Nembe City, and now they will hope to even go for the full points as the title race intensifies. Last season when they met in this same fixture, it ended 1-1 on March 28, 2013.

Nembe come into this match after losing 6-0 at Dolphins in midweek when Emem Eduok set a new league record scoring all six goals. They will have their hands full again when they host a star-studded Enyimba that include second top scorer in the league, Mfon Udoh, with 18 goals.

Bayelsa United vs Dolphins
Venue: Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City
Date: 26.10.2014
Time: 4pm

This is a south-south derby in which Bayelsa United have not beaten Dolphins in the top flight since their 2-1 win in March 2007. Interestingly that win remains the only time Bayelsa United have defeated Dolphins in a premier league match in their last nine meetings.

Last season this same fixture ended 2-2. In the first clash, goals from the league top scorer, Eduok and Ifeanyi Egwim helped Dolphins win 2-0 but they face a Bayelsa team spoiling for a result after managing just a win in their last five matches and also hoping to escape relegation with three matches to end the season.

This article was first published on the website of the League Management Company (lmc-ng.org) . We have their permission to republish here.


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