NPFL Matchday 36 Preview: Will Plateau United become champions?
It’s the international break across most leagues but the unique Nigeria Professional Football League still revs on. It probably doesn’t get more business end than this. Table-toppers Plateau United could become champions this matchday. Four points ahead of MFM FC in second place, with two games to go, this could be it for the Jos-based side. Kenedy Boboye’s side were held to a home draw in their last game against Rivers United but their rivals also didn’t take advantage of the slip-up.
This weekend Plateau United could go for broke away from home against a relegation-threatened Wikki Tourist to give the Tin-City their first taste of League triumph since Mighty Jets in 1972.
Wikki will be pulling no punches knowing this fixture could be their most realistic chance of saving their dire season. The Bauchi side finished third last season but are currently staring down the barrel of the relegation gun. Wikki travel to Gombe United on the final game week.
MFM FC will be more focused on securing their second position which ensures qualification to the CAF Champions League with Akwa United and Enyimba both two points adrift of the Olukoya Boys. Having lost their talisman in Stephen Odey to FC Zurich, the Lagos team will hope to best Nasarawa United when they come to the Soccer Temple at Agege. Odey, the highest goal scorer in the NPFL with 18 goals has accounted for 46% of MFM FC’s goal.
Olatunbosun Sikiru, a part of MFM FC’s famed double act alongside with Adebayo Waheed and probably Chijioke Akuneto will be tasked with replacing Odey’s goal threat for MFMFC. Asides cementing second place and holding out on that flicker of hope for the title, there’s the small issue of revenging the 3-0 loss to the AITEO Cup revenge two weeks ago.
Enyimba’s commanding victory over Wikki put them got them level on points and goal difference with third placed Akwa United. The People’s Elephant travel to the Cathedral to continue their quest for Continental football against Enugu Rangers. They will be buoyed by the fact that Rangers have won just one of the past eight matches between both sides. Akwa United cannot afford a shoddy performance against Shooting Stars in Ibadan with Enyimba barring down.
Akwa United looked fairly comfortable despite the loss of their talented midfielder Alhassan Ibrahim to Austria Wien against Lobi Stars. Abdu Maikaba’s charges will have a huge game on their hands playing at Ibadan where the fans demand the best from the players.
Gombe United’s fate could be sealed this weekend when they take on Rivers United. Placed 19th with 43 points, Manu Garba’s side could bid the NPFL bye if they lose to Rivers United.
ABS FC could also swallow the bitter relegation pill if they lose to Abia Warriors this weekend depending on results from other centres.
Katsina United vs Remo Stars
Enugu Rangers vs Enyimba
Rivers United vs Gombe United
Shooting Stars vs Akwa United
ABS vs Abia Warriors
MFMFC vs Nasarawa United
Kano Pillars vs El Kanemi Warriors
Lobi Stars vs Niger Tornadoes
Wikki Tourist vs Plateau United
Sunshine Stars vs Ifeanyi Ubah