There is no doubting the fact that the 2019/20 season of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season is raising a buzz being the first 380 matches series the league would witness in three years.
Shocking results, eye-catching football artistry, and unexpected formulations are some of the metrics that have left fans and stakeholders in the league with surreal palpitations every match day as no one knows where the day’s shocking results would emerge from writes www.npfl.ng
The fact that no team has a 100% home record after eight home games apiece is enough to throw up some interesting permutations ahead of any match day, Match Day 17 inclusive, with three teams now fighting neck-to-neck at the top of the table as we approach the halfway mark of this marathon.
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Plateau United went back to the summit in style on Sunday after mercilessly smashing Adamawa United 5-0 in Jos but Abdu Maikaba’s men know quite alright that only a win away to MFM FC in Lagos can guarantee their stay on top of the table for the next week because their leadership rivals have home matches to execute.
Lobi Stars stayed on top for just four days after Dakkada FC held Gbenga Ogunbote’s side to a 0-0 draw in Makurdi last Sunday, their first points dropped at home this season. They however have another home game to negotiate on Sunday, this time against hapless North Central opponents Nasarawa United who remain entangled in relegation mess.
Rivers United are the other team sharing top spot with 28 points alongside Plateau United (and Lobi) and they have a date with Wikki Tourists in Port Harcourt on Sunday. Wikki have claimed four points out of a possible six under new coach Usman Abd’Allah and will be hoping to add more against a Rivers United side they have beaten in their last three league meetings. Rivers are however yet to lose at home this term.
There is a top half of the table contest between Akwa United and Heartland at the Nest of Champions in Uyo. Both sides have overcome their poor starts to the season and just one point separates them in 7th and 9th respectively. The Promise Keepers have however lost their last two matches by the 0-2 scoreline and must be at their best to have a chance against Heartland who have kept clean sheets in their last three matches.
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Kano Pillars are in an unbelievable 11-match unbeaten sequence and they will further stake that in Akure against Sunshine Stars. The Owena Whales on their own are no small fish as well and currently are unbeaten in their last four matches, winning three of those. Kabiru Dogo’s men should provide the sternest threat yet to Sai Masu Guda’s unbeaten run on Sunday.
Adamawa United are one of just seven clubs to have changed coaches this term but they still keep praying for change in fortune. They face Kwara United at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe in search of their first win in eight outings. Any result other than a win might surely put paid to their survival hopes even before the halfway mark.
Katsina United will host FC Ifeanyiubah in their noisy abode in Katsina, seeking to earn that win that should take them into the top half of the table. Ifeanyiubah will also be hoping to arrest their away hoodoo which has seen them lose their last seven away games in the league.
Sunday’s other game will see Abia Warriors entertain Warri Wolves in Umuahia. Wolves midfielder Mark Daniel will be returning to the club that gave him his NPFL bow last season but all eyes will be on Wolves forward Charles Atshimene and Warriors lanky star Lukman Bello.
Match Day 17 action starts with a Saturday afternoon game in Uyo between Dakkada FC and Jigawa Golden Stars at the Nest of Champions. Dakkada were humiliated by Kwara United in their last home game but can take solace from achieving what no other side in the league have done last Sunday – stopping Lobi Stars from winning in Makurdi.