NPFL Preview: Enyimba, Enugu Rangers set to collide in Oriental Derby


The showdown between the People’s Elephant and the Flying Antelopes in Enugu has the potential to be a thriller, with the former arguably favourites heading into the clash after losing just one of the last six meetings between the pair.

They’re also on a seven-game unbeaten run in the league, and will be confident of exposing a Rangers side who are enduring an inconsistent season. Only a win for the hosts will guarantee they remain in the top four.

In another Eastern derby, FC Ifeanyi Ubah are aiming to break the hoodoo against Abia Warriors a side they have previously never beaten since their promotion to the top division in 2015.

Both teams are evenly matched on the table, with an identical form guide and points tally of 14.

That could be a pointer to the outcome, while there have also been five successive draws in the duo’s recent meetings. Expect the points to be shared, and the pair to end the weekend still hovering above the dropzone.

Elsewhere, Kano Pillars’ title credentials are on the line away to minnows Yobe Desert Stars at the August 27th Stadium in Damaturu.

The leaders are in good form – they were last beaten on matchday three in Port Harcourt – but face a Yobe team that have surprisingly enjoyed a 100 percent record at home.

It should be a fight to finish for Pillars, as they are aware that any dropped points could be capitalised on by second-place Lobi Stars, who play at home.

Sai Masu Gide are yet to win away this term, but with prolific forward Junior Lokosa in their ranks, have the quality to end that run.

Plateau United face a second away game in five days when they travel to face Niger Tornadoes in Lokoja in the North Central Derby. The champions are having a fine season by all accounts, finishing strongly in their CAF Champions League defeat in Sousse, but will their midweek exertions take a toll here?

Despite having played two games fewer than their title rivals, Kennedy Boboye’s men are only two points off Kano Pillars and Lobi Stars in third.

However, given Tornadoes’ recent improvement, Plateau must find their scoring boots in Lokoja this time, having failed on their last two meetings.

On Monday, Akwa United are back in league action against Nasarawa United in Uyo.

The Promise Keepers, despite having two outstanding league games, find themselves sixth on the log. If the weekend results favour Akwa, they could move into the top four, provided they manage to extend their perfect home record when they take to the field 24 hours later.

Lobi Stars’ remarkable season could get even better with a home win against Katsina United, a result which possibly takes them to the top of the summit with some element of good fortune in Damaturu.

The game has the potential to be exciting, with Katsina’s recent matches all producing goals.

In other fixtures, MFM FC, with a game in hand, should get the job done at home to Heartland, as they aim to move clear of the relegation zone in what has being a disappointing season to date.

Rivers United will aim to extend their recent good form when they travel away to face Wikki Tourists in Bauchi. Fifth-place Rivers, three points off the leaders, could make it four games unbeaten if they manage to avoid defeat, an outcome which would extend Wikki’s stay in the bottom four.

Sunshine Stars are in further danger of slipping down the log if they stumble away to 19th-place Go Round FC. Experience and quality could be in favour of the Akure-based team, but they’ll need to find their bearings fast away at the minnows.

Finally, bottom club Kwara United, winless in their last three games, host El-Kanemi Warriors in a relegation battle.

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