By Fisayo Dairo
Joint table-toppers Plateau United and Lobi Stars have tough home ties to negotiate on Sunday as the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season enters MatchDay 14.
It will be a meeting of two former club bosses when first placed side Plateau United host Akwa United at the New Jos Stadium with Abdu Maikaba and Kennedy Boboye coming face-to-face. Both coaches were at opposite ends when Plateau won the league in 2017 with Boboye masterminding the Tin City side’s first-ever league title.
Maikaba also won a piece of silverware that same season with Akwa United, leading them to a second Cup title in three years. Both coaches are doing pretty well in the opposite dugouts this season with Boboye having won all five matches since he replaced John Obuh at helms in Uyo.
Maikaba will be hoping that former Akwa United stars Michael Ibeh and Gabriel Wassa team up well with striker Ibrahim Mustapha to end Boboye’s 100% record with the Promise Keepers.
Lobi Stars moved joint top with Plateau after an away win at Adamawa United on Wednesday and will face MFM FC at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi on Sunday. Lobi Stars are the only remaining side with 100% home record in the league this term and they face a side they have always beaten in Makurdi.
Rivers United are third on the log (though on same points with Plateau and Lobi), they face a tricky Southern derby at giant-killers Dakkada FC in Uyo on Sunday. The Nest of Champions, venue of the game is where Rivers United suffered an excruciating defeat in the hands of Dakkada’s local rivals, Akwa United and Stanley Eguma’s men will be out to avoid a repeat.
There is the small matter of the baby Oriental Derby on Sunday too with Heartland hosting bogey side Abia Warriors at the Okigwe Stadium.
Heartland have never beaten Abia Warriors in the NPFL with the Naze Millionaires losing six out of their nine previous meetings including their last meeting in Okigwe last term. Fidelis Ilechukwu and his much-changed squad will be hoping to rewrite history on Sunday.
FC Ifeanyiubah will return home to Nnewi after back-to-back losses on the road and their guests this weekend will be Warri Wolves from neighbouring Delta state. Wolves on their own are on a pretty decent run of form, having lost just one of their last five matches but will be tested by the Anambra Warriors who have only dropped points at home once this season.
Kwara United coach Abdullahi Biffo will lead out his charges against his former employers Katsina United at the Ilorin Township Stadium. Biffo left Katsina to return home at the end of last season and Sunday’s game will also be a return to Ilorin for former ABS coach Henry Makinwa who is in charge of Katsina United.
An early-season relegation six-pointer is scheduled for the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano where Jigawa Golden Stars will face Adamawa United. Both newly promoted sides are languishing in the relegation zone and the three points on Sunday will be as coveted as an elephant eared trophy for both sides.
In Gombe, Wikki Tourist will host Sunshine Stars in one of their last matches at the Pantami Stadium (with a return to Bauchi on the cards already). The Ibrahim Garba-led side, however, have their work well cut out against Sunshine who hammered Wikki’s co-tenants in Gombe, Adamawa United 3-0 in their previous visit to Gombe this season.
Two other games are off the shelf this weekend due to CAF Confederation Cup action involving champions Enyimba and Rangers. Both teams and their scheduled opponents (Kano Pillars and Nasarawa United respectively) will join their colleagues next midweek for Match Day 15 hostilities.