By Fisayo Dairo
F or a second successive weekend, Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) action will be abbreviated by the participation of three elite teams in the first round of Confederation of African Football (CAF) club competitions.
The excitement nonetheless continues for participating teams and league lovers as we expect more drama and goals to flow in their numbers. In spite of the fact that just seven matches were played last weekend, a total number of 25 goals were scored, the most in a match week this season (even more than Matchday 1 and 4 when 10 matches were played).
This weekend’s action will get off with a Saturday afternoon kickoff in Ibadan when Shooting Stars entertain Port Harcourt side, Rivers United in a televised game. Much has been made of United’s persistent affliction on the road and after another reversal at Niger Tornadoes last weekend, their away form will be under intense scrutiny as Stanley Eguma hopes to motivate his wards against his former boss, Kadiri Ikhana.
In Sunday’s television game, newly promoted Ikorodu United will aim to secure only their second win of the season when they take on fellow strugglers Giwa FC at the Onikan Stadium. Giwa left it late to claim full marks against Sunshine Stars last weekend while Ikorodu are back home after two debilitating losses on the road to IfeanyiUbah and Akwa United in the past seven days. A win for the “Oga Boys” will at least see them leapfrog Giwa on the log.
The pick of Matchday 7 encounters will see two very expressive sides do battle in Enugu as 2nd placed Rangers host Akwa United who have climbed to 4th on the log after an impressive home win over Ikorodu United in midweek. Spectators at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium should expect goals on Sunday as Akwa United are the only team in the division to have scored more goals (11) than Rangers (9). The corresponding fixture last term also ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw in what is suggestive of the rain of goals on Sunday.
Another game that promises lots of fun is FC Ifeanyiubah’s visit to the Karkanda Stadium for a date with 3rd from bottom El-Kanemi Warriors on Sunday. The Nnewi millionaires have fond memories of this game after their comprehensive 4-1 win in Katsina last term. While both teams’ current form may provide hints on a likely repeat of such, El-Kanemi will be hoping to produce the sort of performance that condemned champions Enyimba to a 2-0 defeat in their last home match.
In Owerri, table toppers MFM are guests to Heartland FC. The Naze Millionaires have just one win to show in their opening five games and despite a change in technical affairs of the team, they must expect a severe test from the rampaging youngsters of MFM FC. In Jos, Plateau United will slug it out with Lobi Stars in a North Cental derby while Wikki Tourists of Bauchi are back in action to face newly promoted Niger Tornadoes at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi.