CLUB NEWS

Top-of-the-table contest headlines Matchday 34

By George Akpayen

The script in this season's Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has torn to shreds predictions of bookmakers as two of the unlikely clubs Plateau United and MFM FC are now in the title race and will go head-to-head at the Rwang Pam Stadium in Jos in a top-of-the-table clash and a potential title-decider this Sunday.

Last season at this time the two clubs were battling for survival and found themselves in the lower half of the standings as the top-two teams were Rivers United and Wikki Tourists. Fast-forward to about a year later, things have changed in the division.

 

Kennedy Boboye's arrival in Jos ahead of the beginning of the season is now yielding results and they are within touching distance of a first league title.

However, MFM FC stand in their way of achieving that feat when they come face to face.

The league leaders Plateau United will be without one of their top performers this season in former under-17 and under-23 goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye who is on international duty with the CHAN Super Eagles in Benin Republic.

Boboye will now turn to experienced veteran stopper John Gaadi to replace Ajiboye between the sticks for this top-of-the-table clash.

MFM are also hit with absences. Their influential striking pair of Stephen Odey and Sikiru Olatunbosun are also with the CHAN Eagles in Benin Republic for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) first leg qualifier. Odey and Olatunbosun have accounted for 25 of the 38 goals scored by MFM this season.

Head coach of MFM Fidelis Ilechukwu of course will miss the services of his two front men. The options before him are Austine Ogunye, Waheed Adebayo and Adekunle Adegboyega.

Already, pundits in the country are now tipping Plateau United as favourites to defeat MFM in this big game of Matchday 34.

At the other end of the table, bottom-placed Remo Stars play hosts to Rivers United who are three places from bottom spot. At this stage last season Rivers United were top of the league and two points clear. They had also won two matches on the road. This time, the Pride of Rivers have not won on the road in all competitions.

On the other hand, the Sky Blue Stars are on a very poor run of no wins in their last nine league matches.

Third-placed Akwa United will look to close the gap on the top-two when they face Niger Tornadoes at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo though with the quartet of Emmanuel Ariwa, Afeez Aremu, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi and their leading scorer Alhassan Ibrahim.

Title holders Rangers go up against Sunshine Stars who are proving to be dangerous in recent travels, winning two of their last three away matches. The trio of Ifeanyi George, Osas Okoro and Orji Kalu will play no part in this game as they are with the CHAN Eagles.

Six other matches will also take place this Sunday. Former champions Enyimba play hosts to relegation-threatened ABS FC at the UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar while Katsina United and Wikki Tourists face off at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina.

Kano Pillars, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC), Lobi Stars and FC Ifeanyiubah all play on the road at Gombe United, Abia Warriors, Nasarawa United and El-Kanemi Warriors respectively.

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