NPFL Preview: Matchday 6
The stakes are high coming into match day six, two managers have already been shown the door and others might yet follow. Here we take a quick peek at the weekend’s clashes;
Kano Pillars (11th) v ABS FC (3rd)
Preseason expectations would have Pillars and ABS switch places in the table but a young season has dished up a plethora of surprises especially in log positions. The average league position of the four teams promoted from the NNL (ABS, Katsina, Gombe & Remo) is 8th, that of last season’s top four? 11th. Maybe we should be sending them to the Champions League instead.
Shooting Stars (19th) v Rivers United (5th)
If bookies kept odds on the first manager to get the sack, five games in Fatai Amoo’s odds would be short.
Admittedly he was less than pleased with his team’s recruitment in the off-season and will have to blood several youngsters this season, but they performed admirably in putting Lobi to the sword in their first match. Two nil they won and quite deservedly.
They have however failed to build on that, falling short against Sunshine, MFM, Kano & ABS.
It’s difficult to see them getting better when Rivers roll up at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan. United failed to pick maximum points at home for the first time this season as Lobi offered a spirited performance, Eguma’s boys will arrive looking to make amends.
Lobi Stars (10th) v Wikki Tourists (8th)
Lobi are one of the more exciting sides in the league, a title they share with MFM. The sheer unpredictability of their results is surely thrilling to the neutrals.
A four nil trouncing at the hands of MFM, three nil victory over ABS, both bookended by an impressive pair of results against Pillars.
El-Kanemi Warriors (14th) v Enyimba (4th)
Enyimba have been flying under the radar masked both by unexpected struggles and surprisingly brilliance of the other teams.
Ten from fifteen is nothing to sniff at with their only loss coming away at league leaders Plateau.
No one exemplifies this resurgence more than newly minted captain Mfon Udoh. A player who finished as the top goalscorer in the Champions League despite Enyimba falling at the group stage but failed to find the same spark domestically. Udoh now has 3 goals from 5 and Enyimba will be hoping he continues in this vein.
FC Ifeanyiubah (18th) v Rangers (12th)
The bar was raised coming in to this season unfortunately this two teams did not get the memo.
Fresh from a landmark season, for one a first league title in 32 years and the other a first piece of silverware, they have been caught napping this season.
The last time Ifeanyiubah and Rangers met the latter won the Charity Cup (NPFL equivalent of the English Community Shield) this time around the stakes are even higher.
Niger Tornadoes (17th) v Katsina United (9th)
Bala Nikyu resigned as manager of Katsina this week amidst reports that he was not getting the best support from the club hierarchy.
Obviously winning the NNL was not enough to convince them and the new man will have his work cut out trying to build on a good start to life in the NPFL.
Nasarawa United (16th) v Plateau United (1st)
Big ask for Plateau United away at Nasarawa. So far they’ve answered all the questions asked of them, can they find a reply for Nasarawa too?
Abia Warriors (6th) v Gombe United (7th)
Warriors are slipping and will look to gain more secure footing against Gombe United a task that’s not as easy as it seems but surely Okey Emordi can leverage his knowledge of Gombe gained from his time with COD in the NNL to guide Abia to victory. Surely.
Akwa United (20th) v Remo Stars (13th)
There were a number of frontrunners and early favorites but hardly anyone foresaw the duo of Nduka Ugbade and Bala Nikyu becoming the first managerial casualties as they semed to be doing well. The clubs -both of them just promoted- perhaps are working off metrics other than league positions.
Sunshine Stars (15th) v MFM FC (2nd)
MFM have taken entertaining football to be their mantra and the soccer temple in Agege will surely draw fans all season long. Travelling is another kettle of fish and Sunshine will do everything to stifle them on Sunday, it is not for nothing that they have 3 red cards so early in the season. Either way it is guaranteed to sizzle.