The second half of any football game is always critical, nerve-cracking and can be a bumpy ride. The 2015 season enters the second half this weekend as the league enters a stage where the twenty club seek points seriously to either win the league, retain or maintain their league status. As we enter the round of twenty fixtures lets take a quick preview of these matches.
DOLPHINS FC VS NASARAWA UNITED
The home team have not been in good form so far this season. Scoring goals have been a big problem for them and as well as coping with varying degrees of injuries in the squad has hampered the three time champions’ battle for points.The reverse fixture ended One nil in favour of the away team Nasarawa with Leonard Ugochukwu’s goal in the 54th minute proving to be the winner. With Mohammed Baba Ganaru now signed on as Kano Pillars technical Adviser, the Lafia based club will be looking to Kabir Suleiman Dogo for expertise to see them through the remainder of the season.
SHARKS FC vs WARRI WOLVES
After picking up just three wins in nineteen games this season and also changing their bench twice already , the ‘Blue Angels’ still languish in an uneviable position on the log, sitting 17th with eighteen points from nineteen matches. Against the ‘sea siders’ who are currently third on the log after collecting four points from their outstanding three matches, much will be expected from Christian Pyagbara and the likes if they hope to discontinue their steady slide on the league.
KANO PILLARS vs LOBI STARS
An enthralling 3-3 draw was what happened on matchday 19 at the Aper Aku stadium in Makurdi where Lobi stars had to come back from three goals to pick a point at home with the defending champions. Lobi stars themselves are not far from the relegation battle as they are just three points away from the drop and home coach Justin Tenger might just be another manager losing his job soon if results don’t start turning their way. For Kano Pillars, a bit of fresh start as the new gaffer in Mohammed Baba Ganaru has his hands full to correct all the wrongs of Okey Emordi if they are to still challenge for the title.
ELKANEMI WARRIORS vs SHOOTING STARS
With just two points separating these sides, much will be at stake as Elkanemi will want to make sure of three points at home after conceding defeat to the Ibadan warlords even though they went ahead at the Lekan Salami stadium. For Gbenga Ogunbote it will be an opportunity to pick points on the road as he continues with the transformation work in Ibadan.
WIKKI TOURIST vs HEARTLAND FC
A disastrous and cataclysmic loss in Onitsha was heart breaking for the once table topping team as they lost to their host in the reverse fixture 4-nil; but coach Audu Maikaba will not want to toy with this fixture again after he rested as much as seven of his regular players. There is definitely revenge on the cards in this fixture.
GIWA FC vs KWARA UNITED
The host team were not impressive enough in their last match and will want to take advantage of their visitors abysmal performance in their rescheduled match with Warri Wolves. Coach Tunde Sanni who brought the Afonja warriors from the second tier football last season has been handed the mantle to see that what happened in 2012/2013 when they were relegated from the elite league doesnt repeat itself . Much luck to him from my end.
FC IFEANYI UBAH vs ABIA WARRIORS
Two rival clubs from south eastern Nigeria will be locking horns once again in the Nigeria professional football League (NPFL) as they meet only for the second time. The first leg ended with a slim victory for the visitors as the solitary goal from freekick specialist Ndifreke Effiong was enough to seal the maximum points. Coach John Obuh since taking over has not had it smooth with recent results and will not be too pleasant to the oil tycoon who has invested heavily into the club and also chasing a continental slot. They will have to do more if that dream is to become a reality.
FC TARABA vs SUNSHINE STARS
With the scintillating form of Sunshine stars putting them top of the table, one would expect that they grab all maximum points against their host who have failed to pick a win in seventeen matches as their last win was away from home when they pipped Akwa United 1-nil in Uyo. Looks a straight win most likely for the away team if they play their cards well.
ENYIMBA INT’L vs RANGERS INT’L
After losing his home record to his former employer, coach Imama Amapakabo will have to restrategize if he is to pick anything away from Aba this time around. With Mfon Udoh returning to training and the whole team on a high, it all points to an Enyimba win in this Oriental derby, but like they say with derbies, anything is possible.
BAYELSA UNITED vs AKWA UNITED
Bayelsa United have been moving in and out of the relegation zone freely and that has to stop if the 2009 league champion want to maintain status quo in the NPFL next season. Coach Zachary Baraje has been able to turn the tide slightly in favour of the Uyo based club in recent matches but now the real work begins for him and his lad as they seek Survival.