Its a Top of the Table Weekend

Another weekend is upon us with mouth watering clashes spread across Europe; especially an unlikely top of the table clash in England as Italy shows off its diversity with the top two teams going head to head displaying contrasting styles. In Spain, its a tale of underachievement as two of the also rans go at each other as their season that promised so much as delivered very little and Germany provides us with two teams that can’t keep the goals out.

Leicester City v Manchester United

Who would ever have thought that with 13 games played in the 2015/16 season of the English Premier League that Leicester City would be top of the table; it goes to buttress the unpredictable nature of the English game. It does not then state that Leicester would win it come May, 2016; as most fans of the midland club would be dreaming of; it remains a long, hard season ahead, injuries here and there and loss of form coming with the territory of competing in the top flight and for major honours.

When you ask anyone about this weekend’s big clash, the first thing that comes to mind is the eight goal thriller last season at the King Power stadium where the Foxes came from 1-3 down to level things and go ahead in a salvo that remains unbelievable especially with respect to how Manchester United grumbled in that match. This season; Leicester seem a different proposition; last season’s game would have sold out at the club’s DVD store as the big highlight of their return to the top flight; however, they go into this one with a huge chance especially having lost only once this season with that solitary loss against Arsenal at home should leave an air of vulnerability for United to capitalize on, even though it seems quite unlikely.

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If there’s one thing I am sure of it has to be that we would have goals in this one; Leicester’s explosive, expansive attacking style meets Manchester United’s cautious and delicate build up which would be centered at ensuring that Leicester see as little of the ball as possible; the Foxes wont mind that at all; they would be content with the satisfaction of catching United on the break with the pace of Riyad Mahrez and the record chasing Jamie Vardy.

Interestingly, Manchester United have only lost to Leicester once in eleven matches with the remaining ten games ending in victory for the Red Devils. This season’s meanest defense thus far belongs to Manchester United with just 9 goals conceded; Leicester are not the most solid of sides defensively; so there is room for Old Trafford outfit to exploit; however, with both teams in good form going into this tie; you may be tempted to punt for a draw with United undefeated in five games and Leicester having won their last four games. It all looks set for a great game with Jamie Vardy aiming to break Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record by scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League Matches as well as Leicester aiming to be the first team since Leeds in 2001 who is outside the traditional top six sides to top the EPL going into December.

My Verdict: Looks to me like we have a high scoring draw on our hands here.

My Betting Punt: An over 2.5 goals should be a safe enough punt @1.98

Tottenham Hotspurs v Chelsea

Interestingly, the two big games been featured from the EPL this weekend ended 5-3 in favour of the home sides in the reverse fixtures last season. I do not think that would happen again this time around; as the teams have a much more solid and resolute stance to themselves this season. Both London teams have had an interesting start to the season; Spurs are undefeated since the opening day of the new campaign, going 12 games undefeated so far this season making them the form team of the league thus far. Chelsea on the other hand are a shadow of the team that ran away with the League title last season; so far putting together the worst title defense in the history of the Premier League. Top players from last season continue to under perform leaving Chelsea hanging around the relegation zone; very unchampion like.

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Tottenham go into the tie as favorites which is not the norm as Chelsea more often than not go into most London derbies as firm favorites. Chelsea seem to be back on track with back to back wins in the league and the Champions League; keeping clean sheets along the way, however a game against Tottenham at a time like this may have come too early in Chelsea’s recovery process; even though Chelsea can take solace in the fact that Spurs haven’t won a game in the EPL after an away Europa League game; coupled with Chelsea been undefeated in 11 of their last 12 games against Spurs provides food for thought.

Tottenham’s young English spine is what is giving them most of the plaudits; especially the emergence of young Dele Alli; who along with Chelsea Captain John Terry will miss the game. Spurs have operated under the radar and I remember criticizing  their transfer business over the summer; I may just be tendering an apology come season end.

My Verdict: With Spurs record after an Europa League game, I am tempted to go for a draw.

My Betting Punt: Spurs win or draw @ 1.42 seems safe enough

Napoli v Inter Milan

Maurizio Sarri has changed the face of this Napoli side, playing the best football in Serie A at the moment, boasting the league’s top scorer and still ensuring a solid defensive base; only one team challenges that defensive record and that’s this week’s opponent; Inter Milan. The Nerazzurri under Roberto Mancini combine the elements of a strong, resolute, compact and defensively solid team with the ability to break out to score goals in an open attacking style. Its quite easy to see the plot for Mancini; get Inter competing again; what better way to do that than to instill a solid defensive base as the bed rock of the team going forward.

Sarri

Napoli were able to rest a number of their heavy hitters for this game to avoid any injuries or fatigue as opponents Inter do not have an continental commitments; even though this game is scheduled for Monday Night, it makes the weekend reckoning due to the enormity of the tie. Inter have not defeated Lazio in their last six outings; which should give Napoli the edge at the San Paolo. The tie provides Napoli with the opportunity to go top of the table as two points separate both sides; so a win for the Naples side takes them to first  and Inter would need to start watching over their shoulders.

My Verdict: Napoli win for me

My Betting Punt: Napoli win either half @ 1.34

Sevilla v Valencia

Sevilla are usually a strong team at home; scoring a significant result just before the International break; unfortunately the wheels seem to have fallen off once again with disappointing back to back defeats to Real Sociedad and Borussia Monchengladbach in the league and the Champions league. Sevilla made a number of significant additions to their squad over the summer with the Sporting Director getting rave reviews in the world of football for the excellent business they had done. All those pieces seem to be struggling to come together as Sevilla just cannot find consistency which continues to be a major worry for Unai Emery.

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Valencia were expected to make great progressions this season after the heroics of last season as Nuno Esporito Santo got the team playing some quality football. Unfortunately, the team has struggled to manage their campaigns domestically and on the continent; this continues to pull the Mestalla down in the wrong direction of the table.

So two teams that are struggling with form and the performances have left very little to desire go ahead to head seeking to get their respective seasons back on track as it seems their main focus would be strictly domestic going forward; even though Valencia may still end up in the Europa League.

Los Che have a terrible record against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan with the host undefeated in their last 14 matches against the visitors with Sevilla winning their last four La Liga games; I worry that Valencia would leave Seville empty handed.

My Verdict: Sevilla’s solid home record against Valencia points to a Sevilla win

My Betting Punt: Both teams to score @1.58

Bayer Leverkusen v Schalke 04

Schalke feature in my previews in back to back weekends; even though they lost to Bayern Munich last week; it was a spirited performance that on a good day may have yielded a different result. Bayer will seek to control the game with their quick attacking play which continues to leave them open in defense.

 

 

The high of a good win in the league last week was checked by a share of the spoils in the Champions League as BATE threw a spanner to their works in their bid to qualify for the knock out stages. If there is one thing you can be sure of with Roger Schmidt and his team is they will play attacking football and would always be on the front foot. Schalke despite the spirited performance from last weekend are winless in four matches and may have to start looking over their shoulder as other mid table clubs start catching up. Schalke have to find creativity from somewhere as this continues to be their Achilles heel with probably one of the worst possession stats in the league; its had for me to see anything other than a Bayer win.

My Verdict: Leverkusen to win

My Betting Punt: A combo comes to play here; Bayer win with over 1.5 goals @ 1.71

 

***** TIPS fetch you N5,200 with a punt of N500

 

****** 75% accuracy last week, not a bad start at all

 

2015 NPFL Team of the Season

 

After a thrilling domestic football season where a number of milestones were achieved by the league and the League Management Company (LMC) especially with regards to the number of away wins this past season, record number of points for the winning team and league football returning to Lagos in the mode of promotions to the NPFL for MFM and Ikorodu United. As usual there would be those that stood out through out the course of the league season; here is my team of the season in a 4-4-2 formation.

In goal, Femi Thomas (Enyimba) and he will be shielded by a back line defense of Markson Ojobo(Enyimba), Stephen Eze (Sunshine stars), Okey Odita (Rangers), Seun Olulayo (Sunshine Stars).

Udoji lifts 2014 fed cup

 

My midfield will comprise of players like Chinedu Udoji (Enyimba) as holding midfielder, Prince Agreh (Sunshine stars) from the right flank, Ezekiel Bassey (Enyimba) operating from the left wing and Esosa Igbinoba (Nasarawa United) running the rings from the center of midfield.

Chisom Chikatara

 

Up front are two quick attackers in persons of Gbolahan Salami (Warri wolves) and Chisom Chikatara (Abia warriors); Kadiri Ikhana gets the honour as Manager of the season.

On the bench will be Ezenwa Ikechukwu (Sunshine), Idris Aloma (Enyimba), Kalu Orji (Rangers), Uche Ossai (Warri wolves), Paul Onobi (Sunshine stars), Joseph Osadiaye (Warri Wolves), Tunde Adeniji (Sunshine Stars).

NPFL-2015-Team-Of-The-Season

Federations Cup 2015 Preview

Exactly a year ago, Enyimba international of Aba were crowned the Federations cup Champions after edging Dolphins FC of Port Harcourt 2-1 in the finals played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos; this was after Enyimba had missed the league crown to Kano Pillars. Fast-forward a year later, and the two 2015 finalists have had to battle hard to avoid being relegated to the second tier of Nigerian football, Nigerian National League (NNL). Its a match between Lobi Stars and Akwa United.

Lobi Stars will be  appearing in their fourth final having previously won just one of the last three finals dating back to 2003 when they defeated Sharks fc of Port Harcourt 2-nil. Two years later, they got to the finals again but lost to Enyimba of Aba 5-6 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in  regulation time. In 2012 Lobi Stars again got to the finals but lost marginally 2-1 to the then defending champions, Heartland FC. This time around, the Makurdi-based team will want to defy all odds to pip first timers, Akwa United.

Akwa United will be appearing in their first finals of the oldest cup in Nigeria. Their progression to this year’s edition was not all smooth after losing the state finals to lowly Akwa Starlets by a lone goal. But they have been able to weather the storm, getting to this stage even while their league participation for next season was seriously in doubt. Kudos must go their manager Zachary Baraje who has been able to do a yeo-mans job with the team.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lobi Stars will be banking on the versatility of their on loan striker from Enyimba, Abdulrahman Bashir, Nane Imenger, Douglas Achiv and their inspirational goalkeeper Terkaa Melai.


Akwa United on their own will be hoping Friday Ubong who has scored the most goals in this competition continues in his stride of getting goals for them. Other players to watch out for; Aniekpeno Udoh, Adio Yusuf, Nnamso Edo and of course Olufemi Kayode their goalkeeper.

ROAD TO THE FINAL FOR LOBI STARS

Lobi Stars 5 Mighty Junior 1 (State Final)

Lobi Stars 4 Junior Spotlight 1 (Round of 64)

Lobi Stars 1 Niger Tornadoes 0 (Round of 32)

Lobi Stars 1 Remo Stars 1 (4-3 penalties: Round of 16)

Lobi Stars 2 BJ Foundation 1 (Quarter Final)

Lobi Stars 1 Enugu Rangers 0 (Semi Final)

ROAD TO THE FINAL FOR AKWA UNITED

Akwa United 0 Akwa Starlet 1 (State Final)

Akwa United 6 Dallatu United 0 (Round of 64)

Akwa United 3 Peacemakers 1 (Round of 32)

Akwa United 1 Prime FC 0 (Round of 16)

Akwa United 2 Tornadoes Feeders 2 (4-3 penalties: Quarter Final)

Akwa United 1 Nasarawa United 0 (Semi Final)

It promises to be an exciting afternoon of football artistry as these two club sides battle it out to win the Federations Cup and also represent Nigeria at next year’s CAF Confederations cup.

Match to kick off at 3.30 pm local time.

Its an El Clasico Weekend

With out a shadow of doubt, Club football’s biggest game takes center stage this weekend, as eternal rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid go head to head in the biggest rivalry in world football. It is a fitting way to return to proper football after the International week of Euro qualifiers, World Cup 2018 qualifiers and high profile friendlies. We will make further stops in England, Germany and Italy to cover the big games across these top leagues in Europe, we would also be adding a new feature to our verdict section which involves what our betting pattern should be like for these big clashes.

Real Madrid v Barcelona

The first installment of this season’s El Clasico has a bit of a different feel to it this time around; stalwarts in both sides have departed for pastures new with the clash seeking a different narrative, in a sense this seems like an underwhelming clasico as Rafa Benitez continues to shape this Los Blancos side in a his own image; solid defensively, consistently rotated; Madridistas are not used to this and it would be a long season of getting used to.

Rafael-Benitez

Real Madrid lost their first game of the season just before the international away at Sevilla; in probably their worst performance this season. The presence of Sergio Ramos in that back line cannot be over emphasized as he remains a major component of what Rafa seeks to build defensively. As a team, Real Madrid strike me as a team suffering from an identity crisis that needs solving immediately, this game comes too soon for Real as Barcelona continue to excel without Lionel Messi.

Who would ever have thought that the Catalans would cope without the influence of Lionel Messi; this was made easy by the desire of some of their leading players to take the step up, assume responsibility, share the task of moving the team forward in the absence of the little Argentine. The influence of Neymar particularly has been a sight to behold, creating and scoring goals a plenty as he has led the team with the support of the likes of Luis Saurez, Andreas Iniesta and Sergio Busquets (Who for me has been phenomenal and continually under valued in main stream). Barcelona have won their last four matches in La Liga, putting in some great performances; even if Messi does feature, I strongly believe they can cope without him in such a huge fixture.

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As far as the head to heads go; Real Madrid have won the last two fixtures at the Bernabeu with the last six games shared evenly with Barcelona’s last win away in the Clasico coming in 2014. The Catalans have coped admirably without the Clasico’s all time record scorer with Neymar and Saurez topping the scorers chart in La Liga. A 0-0 draw is a rarity in this clash as both teams always aim to score and of course the potency in their strike force is matched by very few teams in world football. Barcelona have to be considered as favorites heading into this one; its a huge incentive to have the game’s all time leading goalscorer on the bench waiting to come on in the last 30 minutes; more so, the Catalans have a different swagger about them as against Real where there’s news of unhappiness among the  players with Rafa Benitez and his methods.

My Verdict: Game should end in a high scoring draw.

My Betting Punt: Goals are assured, so a both teams to score over 2.5 goals @ 1.59 makes great sense.

Schalke v Bayern Munich

Where do we even begin to diagnose the problems associated with one of Germany’s biggest clubs, they have changed managers severally, high profile or not; they have invested heavily on experience and later blooded some of their young talent from their academy; but nothing seems to work and as the years have rolled by their rivals have moved on and Schalke behind almost in the wilderness of the Bundesliga; however, things seem to be looking up this season under the guidance of André Breitenreiter who had a good spell at Paderborn before their relegation last season.

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Bayern as usual continue to domination of the Bundesliga with consummate ease and have a chance to extend their lead to eight points as Dortmund lost on Friday night to Hamburg. The Bavarians have dropped points only once so far this season away at Frankfurt in a 0-0 draw; it is expected that Bayern will continue their good form against Schalke as their recent record is quite outstanding against the Blues, so its safe to say there won’t be an upset here; even though Schalke put in a comforting performance in the Ruhr derby.

Bayern are undefeated in their last 10 matches against Schalke, Schalke are winless in their last three; which constitutes a worry. Breitenreiter’s  side would look to capitalize on Bayern’s large contingent of Internationals returning injured, jet lagged or fatigued; however Bayern’s squad strength should see them through to make it 13 wins from their last 14 Bundesliga games.

My Verdict: Bayern to win.

My Betting Punt: Bayern win with over 2.5 goals @ 1.47.

Juventus v AC Milan

The Old Lady seems to have lost its voice this season with underwhelming performances week in week out; it is quite clear to see why; Juve always seem to find it hard to break down teams; a lot of this is attributed to the departure of Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez in the Summer as their new signings look to find their feet.

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The case of AC Milan is not any different, heavy investments in players over the summer promised a new dawn for the once great Milan side; but uncertainties relating to major investments in the club continue to be an unwanted distraction for Sinisa Mihajlovic and his team even though they have found ways to block this out with their performances over the last couple of weeks.

Juventus would view this an an opportunity to send a message to their title rivals especially after picking up back to back wins before the international break and of course there is the small matter of their recent record against Milan; where they have won five of their last six matches against the Rossoneri. Milan on the other hand have been in great form lately; undefeated in their last five matches shows great progress especially taking into consideration that a certain 16 year old Gianluigi Donnarumma (his name is Gianluigi, so he is on the right track) has been manning the goal for Milan during this current run of good form.

Both teams continue to be a work in progress, but this progress needs to be achieved quicker especially for Juventus who continue to have a title to defend and considering last season’s fantastic performance have a mountain to climb to emulate last season’s achievements.

My Verdict: Juventus to win.

My Betting Punt: Draw First Half/Juventus win Second Half @ 3.97.

Manchester City v Liverpool

Manchester City go into this clash with a number of injury worries; Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Samir Nasri, Wilfred Bony etc with Raheem Sterling the main narrative as he welcomes his former side. It does not make for good reading going into a crucial clash of this nature especially taking into consideration that they drew blanks in their last game before the break; a nil nil draw away to Aston Villa was not a good result for a team that aims to create some day light between them and their nearest rivals.

Training & Press Conference - Borussia Dortmund

Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp are a growing team, growing in confidence and stature with the German gradually instilling his imprint on the Anfield side. Liverpool would be pleased to welcome Daniel Sturridge back for a game against one of his former sides; his goals are critical for the early days in the Klopp era. Liverpool lost their first game in the Klopp era with Crystal Palace taking all three points from Anfield, so expect them to seek a way back into winning ways.

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Over the years this tie has promised and delivered goals; but with the way Liverpool have set out in the big games under Klopp, I expect a somewhat pragmatic approach to the tie; with the Reds looking to break and use the creativity of Philip Coutinho; who has relatively good scoring record against the Citizens in recent games. Manchester City will aim to find their scoring boots after drawing blanks at Villa, the return of Sergio Aguero should ease any worries in this regard, so expect City to be quick forward thinking, seeking the early initiative especially as they are quite strong at home.

My Verdict: A draw seems likely.

My Betting Punt: Both teams to score @ 1.73.

 

**** TIPS: A N500 bet should fetch you N8,000

NPFL Match Day 38 Preview

The popular Nzobu zo bu, Enyimba enyi was the song heard all over the Enyimba International stadium after the Referee blew the final whistle in their match against Warri wolves, had the Warri team won the match it would have given them a slim hope of clinching the title for the first time but it was never meant to be for the Warri Seasiders as they could not capitalize on their one man advantage after substitute Etor Daniel was given a straight red card early in the second half. Enyimba are champions already and their final match of the season against Sunshine stars of Akure is just a mere formality, although Sunshine Stars still have a continental ticket to play for.

NPFL Trophy
Be that as it may, the final day holds in stock what many followers of the league have termed the most interesting season so far in recent years, considering the fight to avoid relegation and also to clinch a continental slot. We take a look at each of the last ten matches of the season and analyse how this season has been for the different clubs.

HEARTLAND VS EL-KANEMI WARRIORS
Heartland started the season like a house on fire getting two quick away victories with Erasmus Onuh at the helms of affair, but things started to change for the worse as the good results were no longer coming the way of the club and Erasmus was sacked paving the way for Bethel Orji who was the assistant then. This is Orji’s first time as first team coach of a premier league team and I must confess it has not been a bad one for him considering how he took over. However, it has been an awful season for the Federation cup winners in 2011 and 2012 after investing so much money into the club. In house fighting also contributed in a way to their mediocre season as the Commissioner of Sports had to sack some officials who have been at the club for so many years even helped win the federation cup back to back.  Heartland are currently placed 8th on the log with 53 points.
Elkanemi are 12th on the log and are definitely safe from relegation with their 49 points so far gathered. For a team playing away from their home in Maiduguri for the past two seasons, still maintaining their status in the league is something commendable and coach Kelechi Emeteole will be proud of his work with the club after he was brought in to save their dwindling fortunes from the hands of then Coach Munir Abdulazeez.

SHOOTING STARS VS DOLPHINS FC
Gbenga Ogunbote has been able to turn the fortunes of the Oluyole Warriors around after it seemed like they were going to go back to the Nigeria National League (NNL) with the way they started. The Management of the club wasted no time in firing coach Franklin Howard who brought them from the lower cadre as they passed a vote of no confidence on him. Coach Ogunbote has the panache of always helping clubs avoid relegation and he has done the Houdini job again. Kudos to him! Shooting are definitely sure of topflight football next season as they are placed 9th on the table with 52 points.

ogunbote
Same cannot be said for Stanley Eguma’s Dolphins FC who are fighting seriously to avoid the drop, currently on 44 points and will be hoping that other matches from different centers go their way, the Port Harcourt side must defeat Shooting Stars at home to stand any chance of being in the league next season. It has been a very difficult campaign for the three time league champions who are without an away win so far this season and it will be a shame if they can’t avoid the drop.

NASARAWA UNITED VS GIWA FC
Since the departure of Mohammed Baba Ganaru to Kano Pillars, Coach Suleiman Kabiru Dogo who took over the first team football at the club has had a very good run of form and that has propelled the team to 5th on the log with 60 points. A win for them in Lafia will definitely put them in good standing to finish 3rd and grab the CAF Confederations cup ticket if Sunshine Stars fail to get all three points against the already 2015 champions-Enyimba.
Giwa FC’s story in the league has shown that if private individuals invest financially in buying clubs in the premier league, there can be successful. The Jos based club are on the verge of clinching a slot to the continent next year as they seat confidently in 3rd place with 63 points. All they need is just a point in this match and they are sure of contesting with the big boys in next year’s CAF second tier football competition.

KWARA UNITED VS FC IFEANYI UBA
Another season to forget for the ‘Afonja Warrior’ are certain of playing football next year in the lower cadre, going down the same season they got promoted. One would have thought that for a club that got relegated two seasons ago and came back the next, lessons would have been learnt on how to survive and stay up in the league, but they haven’t learnt from their past mistakes and surely like I heard a fan say the other day “we are used to going down”, its a worry for the hierarchy of the club to stem this recurring misfortune if they can bounce back to the league in two years time.

Ifeanyi-ubah
Three times this season, FCIU have had to shuffle their coaching staff. First it was the Bulgarian, Mitko Dobrev-who in my opinion shouldn’t have been sacked. Then came in former U-20 flying eagles coach John Ogbuh who had a torrid time maintaining the winning formula of the Bulgarian and as a result another former national team handler, Daniel Amokachi and Ike Shorunmu were brought in to tinker with the squad and get better. But an internal dispute between Dan and the Proprietor of the club Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah paved the way for the return of Ogbuh. This being their first season in the topflight after a long absence, it might suffice to say placing 10th on the table before the final game of the season and avoiding the relegation dog fight is welcomed.

ABIA WARRIORS VS SHARKS FC
The ‘ochendo boys’ for me have retrogressed in terms of how they played last season and how high they finished on the table compared to this one where they can only finish with as much as 53 points. Ladan Bosso, hopefully will get all three points in this match but surely no hope for the continent next year as this was the target for this season. Whether he still remains as the manager next sesson, we wait and see. But the revelation so far this season from Umuahia has to be Chisom Chikatara who has netted thirteen times in only his second season in the topflight. Whether or not they keep him next season will be another kettle of fish altogether, but a mediocre season it has been for the warriors.

Chisom Chikatara
For Sharks they have to do all within their might now to beat their host if they are to stand any chance of staying up. Its been very hectic for the ‘Blue Angels’ since the start of the season as they continued to huff and puff around the relegation zone. But a string of good results in their recent matches has helped their ambition a bit. Albeit, it still might not matter if they lose this tie and other corresponding results fail to go their way. They have 45 points and two places above the drop zone.

WARRI WOLVES VS FC TARABA
Had they (Warri Wolves) beaten Enyimba last week, there would still have been a good chance of claiming their first title ever in the domestic scene, a coup they couldnt accomplish. The good news, however, is that they are sure of clinching at least a ticket to the continent next year and that most likely would be in the champions league as they seat pretty on 2nd spot with 63 points.

Gbolahan Salami
For FC Taraba, too bad they had to go down after keeping their status as premier league campaigners on the last day of last season, this time they can’t because they are 19th on the log with 37 points. Majorly their problem has been recruitment of players and also Tijani Babangida (former Super Eagles player) abandoning them at a point in the season.

SUNSHINE STARS VS ENYIMBA
A match Sunshine must not lose if they want to still make it to the continent. A season that was looking perfect started to crumble when they couldn’t beat Heartland at home in week 27 after an impressive hundred percent home record.

Boboye

As the top spot slipped through their fingers, frustration set in for the fans and things only nose dived to the nadir point in which they were banished away from their home turf in Akure for one year by the League Management Company (LMC) after the fans hooliganism. Apart from this, Kennedy Boboye has done a marvelous job with the ‘Akure Gunners’ after taking over from the English gaffer Paul Ashworth earlier on in the season. They have 60 points from 37 mstches and are placed fourth on the table.

Coach_Kadiri_Ikhana_of_Enyimba_F.C-727-350-300-100-c
The Champions-elect Enyimba hopefully will have lots of their fans across the nation grace this epic moments at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. Winning an unprecedented 7th title in the league is a welcome development for the former CAF Champions League winners and hopefully they do Nigeria proud again next year at the competition proper. Kadiri Ikhana must also be given some commendation here as he is the best decorated coach in the league with four league titles, one champions league, one federation cup. All hail the new king of Nigerian professional football league.

RANGERS VS BAYELSA UNITED
A game Imama Amapakabo must not fail to win as they might get relegated if other results don’t go their way and they lose to their visitors. Its been a very rocky campaign for the six time champions of the league as the highlight of this season was getting to the semi finals of the Federation cup only to lose by a goal to Lobi Stars. If they avoid the drop (which am sure should happen) next season can be very good for them if they recruit well in the off-season transfer window and most importantly keep their current coach.
Bayelsa united seated 1st from bottom with just a meagre 34 points will have to contend with life in the lower league and it will  be difficult now to keep any of their star players. That might be a big problem for them considering the fact that the state government has not been keenly interested in the growth of the club since winning the league title in 2009.

AKWA UNITED VS LOBI STARS
Since moving to the magnificent ultra-modern Godswill Akpabio international stadium, the Promise keepers have not lost a home game in the league and thats the confidence with which they are going to play this match. Three points or nothing will be on the front burner for the Zachary Baraje led team as they precariously seat 17th with 44 points and need an outright win to be sure of remaining in the league. Their season so far has not been good as usual with money being owed the players and also losing some of their best legs last season.

Zachary Baraje
Lobi stars will at least be happy that their season has not totally being a write off with the federation cup final in sight with this same Akwa united in seven days time, but what will be worrying for the Makurdi based club is the potentiality of going on relegation. If they lose by as much as five goals and Rangers, Sharks and Dolphins win their respective matches, that will leave them level on point with Akwa united on 47 points. Meaning they will go down based on goal diffference. But I expect them not to lose this dress-rehearsal of the Federation Cup final by as much as that. Lobi to stay up??? 90 minutes will decide!!!

WIKKI TOURIST VS KANO PILLARS
Wikki Tourist have surprised everyone since their return to the elite league having garnered 60 points from their 37 games so far. Abdul Maikaba has done a fantastic job with the club and they can go on to consolidate next season if they can keep some of their players in the current squad especially Mubarak Umar who has netted 12 times for them this season. The icing on the cake for them will be to get the final continental slot which will mean finishing 3rd on the log but they will have to pip their visitors with a wide margin and hope that Giwa loses to Nasarawa United by a small margin and Sunshine fail to grab maximum points against Enyimba.

Nigerian player Chinonso Christian Obiozor celebrates after scoring a goal against Zimbabwe during the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) football match between Zimbabwe and Nigeria for the third and fourth place, in Cape Town on February 1, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

Kano Pillars were bedeviled by the robbery attack on their way to honour the first league game of the season against Heartland. Coupled with that, they also had issues with the contract negotiation of Christian Obiozor who had to leave them to join forces with Enyimba. Coach Okey Emordi who won them their 4th and third consecutive league title was relieved of his job after some very agonizing displays  and disappointing results from the players. Mohammed Baba Ganaru was brought back from Nasarawa United and it still did not get better for  the Sai Masu Gida. Put salts to their injuries, they lost their over-twelve years unbeaten home record to lowly Nasarawa united and that capped a miserable outing for them this season as they handed the title they were to defend very early on in the season. Kano Pillars are currently placed 7th on the log with 55 points from 37 matches