Five things to watch on Matchday 10
By Deji Ogeyingbo
After Plateau United, MFM FC & Akwa United all ensured that they sealed qualification into the next round of the CAF Champions League and Confederation cup respectively, but all focus have now shifted to Matchday 10 fixtures as Kano Pillars, who are still mourning the death of their defensive stalwart – Chinedu Udoji, travel to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu to face Rangers.
Players are to wear black armbands in the mourn Udoji who passed on just some few hours after he played in Kano Pillars’ 1-1 draw against Enyimba last Sunday.
Here are five things to look forward to this weekend.
Kano Pillars mourn Chinedu Udoji
Kano Pillars would play without their ever reliable centre back, Udoji as they file out at ‘The Cathedral’ to face Rangers. The former Enyimba player who died in a car accident just few hours after winning the man of the match award in Kano Pillars draw against Enyimba has been pivotal to his team just conceding six goals so far this season.
His defensive partner, Emmanuel Anyanwu, would have to learn to get used to not playing alongside Udoji, and it would all start in the game against Rangers – a venue they have not won at in over three years. The team, however, still remain unbeaten in their last six matches.
Also, if Pillars want to stand any chance of ending that poor run in Enugu, they would have to hope that their talismanic striker Junior Lokosa, who has already scored eight goals in nine matches, continues his impeccable start to the season.
Rangers on their part have also hit a purple patch in recent weeks.The team have won two of their last three matches and would aim to get the three maximum points, as a victory for them would draw them level on points alongside Kano Pillars on the league table.
Niger Tornadoes begin life without Erasmus Onuh
Having won just three matches out of nine games this season as well as being the bottom-placed team in the league this season, it came as no surprise that Niger Tornadoes made away with Erasmus Onuh as their head coach – the first coaching casualty of any NPFL team this season.
After also losing twice at home, a venue that has been a fortress for them, the hierarchy at the Minna-based club have now handed the mantle to Hamza Abara, with the first task at hand being a tricky home game against Abia Warriors.
With just two points separating both teams, Niger Tornadoes would definitely see this as a chance to get out of the drop zone, but would still take cognisance of the fact that the Umuahia-based club snatched a point the last time they visited them.
Also, one player Abia Warriors would be hoping to steer them to victory is Ndifreke Effiong. The striker who has scored five of his team’s seven goals this season should definitely pose a threat to the defence line of Tornadoes going into the game.
Ladan Bosso walking on a tightrope
Still talking about early season strugglers, Ladan Bosso is one man that would be looking forward to an upturn in fortune from his team, FC Ifeanyiubah, following their recent poor run of results.
FC Ifeanyiubah are currently 16th on the NPFL log, having picked up just one win in their last five matches. After defeating Heartland in Nnewi a fortnight ago, the team then contrived to lose scandalously to Katsina United last weekend, and to make matters worse, Bosso got his marching orders in the game.
Therefore, the game against Nasarawa United is really crucial for the team, if they are to make anything meaningful out of this season. The last six meetings between both sides have seen FC Ifeanyiubah clinching two wins and a draw, with Nasarawa United winning three of those.
Enyimba could add to Sunshine Stars’ woes
Things could not get worse for Sunshine Stars. After being heavily sanctioned by the League Management Company (LMC) due to crowd trouble, there were reports that some aggrieved former players stopped the team from training during the course of the week.
The team would travel to the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar to face an in-form Enyimba team. The Aba-warlords, who are on a six-game unbeaten stretch, did the unthinkable by picking up a point at the Sani Abacha Stadium in their last fixture.
Paul Aigbogun’s side are also unbeaten at their adopted home and have also been reliant on Stanley Dimgba’s goals to see them through matches this season.
Kwara United are getting into form
When Michael Ohanu scored that last-minute goal in Kwara United’s 3-3 draw at Nasarawa United in Lafia last weekend, it definitely gave the team some renewed vitality going into their subsequent matches.
By virtue of the draw, the John Obuh’s boys have now won one and drawn the other of their last two matches, thereby shrugging off the sticky patch they had at the beginning of the season.
The team would have to test their might this time round against Rivers United, who dispatched Niger Tornadoes with ease in their last fixture.