Nigeria Premier League goes down to the wire
Posted: 14 August 2012 Time: 11:53
With just two games left to conclude the Nigeria Premier League, here's a preview of Week 37 games scheduled to be played on Wednesday.
As the season draws to a close, most teams are putting finishing touches to the actualization of their respective ambitions. The race for the NPL crown is set to go down the wire as no team has a solid grip on the top spot; with just a point separating the first placed Rangers from third placed Lobi Stars.
The battle against relegation at the lower rungs of the table is no different, with few points separating the teams there in their battle against relegation.
Lobi Stars vs Rangers Int'l:
With one point separating the two sides, third placed Lobi Stars host table topping Enugu Rangers at Kastina-Ala in a game could prove very decisive as to where the league title berths this season.
Lobi stars have been enjoying an impressive run of form, winning all of their last five concluded games (their game against Rising Stars was abandoned) which saw them comprehensively beat reigning champions Dolphins FC away in Port Harcourt.
Rangers on the other hand have won four of their last five games, and will be heading to Kastina-Ala in high spirits knowing that a least a draw will help them consolidate their hold on top spot.
The game promises to be an exciting encounter as Rangers under Okey Emordi are not accustomed to playing cautiously, with the former Enyimba gaffer preparing to field four strikers who rotate between a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-4.
Lobi Stars on the other hand play a more controlling 4-5-1 formation, with Tony Okpotu operating mostly as a lone striker and David Tyavkase supporting from the middle of the park.
Akwa United vs Kano Pillars:
Sixth placed Akwa United host second placed Kano Pillars in Uyo. Despite their terrible away form, Akwa have won their last five home games, and will be looking to finish in at least the top five to get a chance to play in the WAFU Cup next season.
The visitors on the other hand, have won three and drawn two of their last five games. Their form on the road has also been far as they have not lost in their last three games away from home.
Pillars will be playing in Uyo with their ears at Kastina-Ala, hoping they can create an upset to improve their chances of emerging as champions.
Sharks FC vs Wikki Tourists:
A continental ticket seems unlikely for eight-placed Sharks who host 11th placed Wikki Tourists. Both sides will just be battling to round off the season in the best possible position.
Jigawa G.S vs Enyimba:
Jigawa G.S will hope boost their fight against relegation by improving on their 15th place on the log with a win over visiting former champions Enyimba who are placed 4th. The visitors however, will hope to give their hitherto fading title aspiration a lift, with a win over their hosts.
Niger Tornadoes v Dolphins FC:
Niger Tornadoes are another team battling relegation despite having Gwar Sibi, the League's topscorer in their line-up. The Minna club have lost four of their last five games, conceding twelve goals and scoring five in the process. Dolphins on the other hand are no longer in the race to defend their title as they have slumped to 9th place on the league table, and have also won just once in their last five games. Both teams appear evenly matched in a game that does'nt seem to hold much promise.
ABS FC vs Kaduna United:
The press acclaimed most entertaining team in the league will be aiming to swim out of relegation waters when they play host to Kaduna United. ABS has lost three of their last five games however their home form has been quite consistent. Kaduna United are more comfortable on the log, and are enjoying a slightly better run of form. However, the hosts are expected to win this one.
Warri Wolves vs Shooting Stars:
The hosts have won two of their last five concluded games (the game against Rising Stars was abandoned). While their resurgent visitors have lost only once in their last five games.
The game promises to be an explosive one.
Heartland FC vs Gombe United:
Heartland have played only one of their last five games at home and that game was their only victory in all five as they lost their four games away from home. The visitors despite winning three of their last five games have not won away from home in a while. Despite this, the hosts are expected to win this game.
Ocean Boys vs Rising Stars.
The hosts are currently plagued by a financial crisis that has seen them fail to honour several games, and has aroused talks about their withdrawal from the league. If the hosts manage to make an appearance for the game, the morale of the players may have been dampened by the recent crises, thus the visitors hold the advantage in this game.
It should be noted that Sunshine Stars played their own Week 37 games earlier than others because of their continental engagements, and were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Kwara United on Sunday.