The Predictor takes up Enyimba v Pillars



The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) continues inch closer to the finish line and this matchweek throws up the biggest fixture between Enyimba and Kano Pillars who have seven titles between since the turn of the Millenium.
All 10 matches in the Nigeria top flight take place this Sunday. Preview and predictions below.
Enugu Rangers v Rivers United
Last season, Rangers and Rivers United were the top-two teams finishing first and second respectively. This season, things have changed at both clubs as they have struggled for form. NPFL champions Rangers will have a third coach Sylvanus Okpala take charge of their checkered season after Imama Amapakabo and Chukwuma Agbo. I think this change in guard is coming at a very delicate time of the campaign and when they are battling for survival.
On the other hand, Rivers United have done any better. They have scored just four goals on the road in 14 matches - the worst away scoring record this season which they share with Kano Pillars and Katsina United. Recent trips, including as Dolphins, to Rangers have not been encouraging too. The Flying Antelopes will ease their relegation fear for now, I think, as Rivers United will miss key players in Festus Austine, Bolaji Sakin, Guy Keumian, Abiodun Akande and Ayo Saka.
My prediction: 1-0
Katsina United v ABS FC
ABS have found themselves in the deep end of the table and in deep trouble too. The zip, the pace and panache with which the Ilorin club began the season appear to have disapeared in recent matchdays especially since the second round began. They have won four games in 12, losing six while they are currently on a run of 11 defeats on the road.
I am sure that Katsina United will really relish the chance to face ABS at their struggling times at the moment. Baldwin Bazuaye's men were just 12 points away from a draw at MFM last matchday when Destiny Ashadi and Obinna Eleje got among the goals. I expect these two men to play roles in what should be a win for Katsina United.
My prediction: 2-0
Remo Stars v MFM FC
I must say MFM are still in the race for the title and a top-three finish. It is however a different case for Remo Stars who in my opinion, or suggestion, should prepare for life in the second tier. In recent matchdays the Sky Blue Stars have been handing their youth team players games and I expect that to continue in this southwest meeting with MFM.
This game sure presents MFM striker and the league's leading scorer Stephen Odey with a chance to add to his 18 goals so far, but I don't expect the Sky Blue Stars to make it any easier. MFM have also struggled for form in their travels - losing all previous eight away matches. This game should end in a share of the spoils.
My prediction: 1-1
Plateau United v 3SC
It has remained difficult to get a result off league leaders Plateau United whenever they play at home this season. Plateau United hold a three-point lead at the top ahead of the chasing pack and I am sure Kennedy Boboye will tell his men that they are edging closer to the title.
Fatai Amoo and his 3SC are dire need of a result to calm their fans who are worried that their team could drop to the second tier at the end of this season. It has been one struggle too many in recent seasons for the Ibadan club. I doubt if Amoo's men can stretch their unbeaten run to six games on the spin.
My prediction: 2-0
Enyimba v Kano Pillars
One of the reasons, Kano Pillars have failed to do well this season is their form away from home. The first meeting in Kano was won by Pillars 3-1 and Kabiru Balogun was the star of that show - scoring twice. Balogun has scored three times in his past two meetings with Enyimba including as a player of Ikorodu United. So the Peoples Elephant know the man to watch now.
NPL: Kano v Enyimba

Duration: 5 min, 0 sec
Highlights from the Nigerian Professional Football League between Kano Pillars and Enyimba from the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, Nigeria.

Enyimba have won their last nine matches at home. The numbers also look good in favour of Gbenga Ogunbote's men ahead of this game - 11 wins in last 13 of this meeting - gives them that edge. One contest that I look forward to in this game - Enyimba captain Mfon Udoh versus Chinedu Udoji, immediate past captain of the Peoples Elephant. But I am backing Enyimba to put the full points on the board.
My prediction: 1-0
Gombe United v Lobi Stars
Last matchday, Gombe United produced one of the biggest performance by an away team when they rallied from two goals down to level things at 2-2 against FC Ifeanyiubah. The Savannah Scorpions had a goal ruled out, or should I say the ref called in the game by seconds before their third goal. However I expect Gombe United to build on that scintillating performance with Lobi lurking.
Lobi just could not breach Plateau United at the back despite creating numerous scoring chances last weekend. I am sure that Solomon Ogbeide and his men know that another slip will see them slide out of touching distance with the top-three as they are sixth. I think Sunday Akleche as well as Anthony Okpotu and Kingslety Eduwo will play big roles in this fixture.
My prediction: 1-2
Abia Warriors v FC Ifeanyiubah
It is one of the southeast contests. Only Enyimba have picked more points, being 10, in this quadruple of a mini-league often called Oriental Derbies. But Abia Warriors have scored more goals and are just a goal away from reaching double figures in the Oriental Derbies, something they should achieve at the end of this game.
Their opponents FC Ifeanyiubah have stuttered in recent matches. Their performances have not been so convincing as it was at a point this season. Players have murmurred about wages not being paid for the past three months, and will be four by the end of this July. Add to that they have never beaten Abia Warriors in a top flight match. I do not think that will end this time.
My prediction: 2-0
Nasarawa United v Niger Tornadoes
Nasarawa United always have a knack for finishing the season strongly and this time they are doing the same. Thomas Zenke, Adamu Hassan and Abdulrahman Bashir as well as goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso have been in very good form. So Tornadoes will have their hands full.
One thing Abubakar Bala has done at Tornadoes this term is to make sure they are not struggling to keep their place in the top division like they have done in their previous 12 appearances in the championship. That should keep him in his role for next season but at the Lafia City Stadium, this game belongs to the Solid Miners.
El-Kanemi Warriors v Akwa United
I have read comments credited to Abdu Maikaba that his team Akwa United can win in Maiduguri, one of the most difficult venues in the NPFL this season. Seriously I think Akwa United should go for it as they have the playing personnel to shock El-Kanemi who have fell off the radar. No wonder they have dropped to seventh place and their head coach Ladan Bosso says he is not flustered so far they remain in the division at the end of the campaign.
For Akwa United, it is no longer remaining in the division but chasing the title or even a top-three place. Maikaba has turned things around in less than a year with Ibrahim Alhassan, Musa Newman, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Ubong Friday, Godspower Igudia, Christian Pyagbara and goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo in the thick of happenings for the Promise Keepers. Maikaba and his men can eke out a result in this.
My prediction: 1-1
Wikki Tourists v Sunshine Stars
Earlier this month no one would have given Sunshine Stars any sort of chance of moving quite far comfortably above the drop zone. In came Duke Udi and he has instilled a different mentality to a team that looked timid, lacked direction and struggled to make a go at opponents. Now teams are wary of them after back-to-back away wins.
Wikki are just a point above the danger line. So they know they will have to play their hearts out to win against a fired up Sunshine Stars. This is a finel-balanced contest in the offing. The Giant Elephant will claim a 10th straight home as I do not see the ambition of a three away win on the bounce for Sunshine Stars happening.
My prediction: 2-1
•The Predictor got SIX correct results without a perfect score in the previous matchday.