Matchday 7 preview: Derby day in Port Harcourt & Umuahia
By George Akpayen
It will be derby day in the cities of Port Harcourt and Umuahia this Sunday when Rivers United play hosts to Go Round FC in a first ever NPFL meeting and about 73 miles away, two Oriental clubs, Abia Warriors and Rangers, go head-to-head.
The Rivers Derby between former champions Rivers United and Go Round will hold at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, and emotions are expected to be on a high when the two sides square.
One interesting fact going into this contest is that both clubs have similar numbers after just six matchdays – two wins, a draw, three defeats, four goals scored, seven conceded and seven points apiece. Such level-pegging do not happen too often in the league ahead of games.
Also, both clubs have three goals apiece after six matches. Guy Keumian who has scored twice as well as Bamba Bakari and Israel Daniel have accounted for Rivers United’s four goals. Go Round have relied on Adeseun Adelani who has netted twice. The pair of Solomon Nwachukwu and Shedrack Oghali have contributed a goal each.
However, ‘Dare The Lion’ have fired blanks on the road in all of their three away games at Wikki Tourists, Lobi Stars and Katsina United. Go Round head coach Ngozi Elechi and his men will need to put up a better show than they have done in their first 270 minutes on the road in the division.
Just under three hours drive from the Garden City, the fourth Oriental Derby takes place at the Umuahia Township Stadium where Abia Warriors play hosts to seven-time champions Rangers. The previous three Oriental derbies have produced just two goals this season. Abia Warriors will be involved in back-to-back Oriental Derby after defeat at Enyimba in midweek.
This fixture has always had goals in it – 14 goals in four of this corresponding matchups. Only once did this derby finish without goals when both teams met in Umuahia in September 2014. Last season, Abia Warriors destroyed their opponents in this fixture 4-0 with Sunday Adetunji netting twice and Anthony Okemmiri and Samson Obi.
In the absence of Adetunji still recovering from an arm injury, Ndifreke Effiong has stepped in well – netting three goals, two of them at home. That 4-0 defeat remains the only time the Flying Antelopes suffered defeat in Umuahia on the back of three previous draws.
FREE-SCORING LOKOSA AWAITS MFM IN KANO
After six matchdays, the name on the lips of every follower of the top division in the country has been Junior Lokosa. He has scored six goals in six appearances for Kano Pillars and he will be a marked man when MFM FC come calling.
MFM’s defence have been all over the place in their travels this season, and that should be a headstart for Lokosa who has been a beast of some sort in the frontline of the Kano club.
REUNION FOR MAIKABA AND WIKKI
While Lokosa starts the matchday top of the pile for top-scoring players, Akwa United lead in the most important aspect and by a point. Abdu Maikaba will lead his team out to face his former employers and there will be no love lost in this. The team of the ‘School Teacher’ have been imperious this term and have midfielders getting among the goals and assists.
Akwa United already thick all the right boxes going into this game – most goals scored, mean defensive unit, yet to concede a goal to Wikki in this fixture since July 2012 and most importantly top of the pile. Unfortunately Wikki have been desperately poor on the road so far and that puts Akwa United as favourites for this contest.
HEARTLAND AIMING TO ERASE WINLESS START
For Heartland it is still no win on the board since their return to the big time this season. They face Kwara United who have struggled as well but have two wins. The worry for John Obuh ahead of this trip to Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri, home of Heartland is their lack of goals as they have netted only twice and all two have come from Stephen Alfred.
Heartland and Kwara United begin the matchday as bottom-two. So it looks like we have an early season six-pointer.
Title holders Plateau United on the other hand will play hosts to Sunshine Stars as they look to get back to winning ways after Lokosa put them to the sword in Kano in midweek while three other games – Lobi Stars versus FC Ifeanyiubah, Katsina United versus Niger Tornadoes and El-Kanemi Warriors versus Enyimba will be part of Sunday’s cast of matches in the division.
Matchday 7 will be rounded off in the city of Lafia where Nasarawa United face Yobe Desert Stars.