Only six matches will hold this Sunday in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with table-topping Plateau United going up against bottom-placed side Akwa United in what a number of pundits have described as the pick of the pack.
Champions Rangers International and Rivers United are exempted this weekend as they feature in the CAF Champions League while Wikki Tourists and Federation Cup winners FC Ifeanyiubah play in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Plateau United are on a roll. They have won five matches and drawn two in the opening seven matches of the season which is far better than Akwa United’s wretched form guide of one win, three draws and three defeats.
The Jos club’s impressive start to the campaign leaves them as the only team without a loss this season after seven rounds of matches and the performance apes that of last season by Abia Warriors, who went nine games unbeaten in the opening nine rounds of matches. That run was masterminded by Kennedy Boboye and coincidentally he is the man behind Plateau United’s present form guide.
However Plateau United’s run is better than that of Abia Warriors at this stage last season as they have taken six more points than the Umuahia club from the first seven games.
For Akwa United and their coach, Abdu Maikaba, the patience of their fans could become thinner after managing just one win and three draws in seven which has left them bottom of the pile. The Promise Keepers laboured to a 1-0 win over newcomers Remo Stars to claim their first win of 2017 and the season on Matchday 6.
Interestingly, Plateau United have never beaten Akwa United in the NPFL as their two meetings have ended with the latter winning one and drawing the other. Last season in this same fixture Akwa United won 2-0 with Ubong Friday scoring both goals and the striker will be available to face the league leaders on Sunday when Sani Mohammed signals the kickoff at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, otherwise known as the Nest of Champions.
At the Aper Aku Stadium, sixth-placed Lobi Stars host one of the four promoted sides Katsina United who have failed to win in their last three league matches.
Seven-time NPFL champions and two-time Caf Champions League winners Enyimba will be at the scenic Confluence Stadium, Lokoja to face Niger Tornadoes who will be buoyed with their first away win in six years after defeating Remo Stars 1-0 at the Gateway Stadium, Sagamu in midweek. The Peoples Elephant are seeking their first away win of the campaign.
El-Kanemi Warriors, still invincible at their Maiduguri stadium home, will go up against Gombe United in a northeast derby. The Borno Warriors are unbeaten at home since 10 April 2016 and have put together 16 wins on the bounce at home and will be looking at making it 17 straight home wins but will have to overcome Gombe United on Sunday.
Kabiru Dogo’s Nasarawa United will line up against Abia Warriors to better their 14% win ratio (just one win in seven matches). Abia Warriors have failed to avoid defeat in their last three travels to Nasarawa United including a 2-3 loss in this same matchup last season when the Solid Miners needed a winner from Abdulrahman Bashir inside the last 20 minutes to see off the resistance of Abia Warriors.
Sunshine Stars and ABS FC is the sixth fixture for Matchday 8. The Akure Gunners braved all odds to eke out a 1-1 draw at Abia Warriors on Wednesday to put life into a stuttering start to the season. Third-place ABS will relish the fact that they have not lost to Sunshine Stars since May 2012. The last meeting between the two teams was in May 2013 when Sunshine Stars played hosts. The game ended 0-0.
Matchday 8 Fixtures | Sunday, 12 February, 2017
- Lobi Stars v Katsina United
- Niger Tornadoes v Enyimba
- Akwa United v Plateau United
- El-Kanemi Warriors v Gombe United
- Nasarawa United v Abia Warriors
- Sunshine Stars v ABS FC
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