By Taye Hassan Adigun
This Sunday Lobi Stars United host another title contender Sunshine Star of Akure at Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi in their first match of 2020, with both clubs having enjoyed better-than-expected campaigns so far.
The Pride of Benue sit 2nd in the table after 11 games 2 points adrift Plateau United at the top of the league standings – whereas Sunshine Stars are flying high in seventh place.
Lobi Stars can look back on 2019 as a year in which they made great strides, despite their defeat in Uyo against Akwa United last weekend and to the point where they head into 2020 as Plateau United’s closest challengers at the top of the Premier League table.
For Lobi Star will first and foremost be viewing Sunday’s encounter against Sunshine Stars who will be without their NPFL leading scorer Israel Abia as an opportunity to strengthen their hold on the CAF Champions League spot.
Lobi Stars were second place, 18 points and 12 goals better than Rivers United who leapfrog to the third spot after beating 17th place Adamawa United last weekend in Gombe.
It was another difficult end to the year this time, but in more understandable circumstances as they fell to Akwa United as part of eight-game unbeaten, which is the longest under Gbenga Ogunbote.
Sunshine Stars have enjoyed a relatively successful season of their own so far, though, with Kabiru Dogo at the helm of the affairs for the second season after Duke Udi departure by picking up 16 points from his opening 11 games – 2 points adrift their opponent this Sunday.
The Akure gunners could pull a surprise as they have done it against Adamawa United in Gombe and they almost ran away with 1-0 victory against Mountain of Fire FC in Lagos. With one loss games in previous away games, 2-1 against third-place Rivers United in November and 2-1 to Katsina United.
The Akure based team will come up against a much sturdier defence with just four goals deficit since the season kickoff, Gbenga Ogunbote has solidly built a very formidable defence since arriving from Rangers International during the offseason.
The encounter promises to be a very interesting match as both teams will be looking for the maximum point.
Last matches Lobi Stars
Akwa United 1-0 Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars 1-0 Katsina United
Enyimba 1-1 Lobi Stars
Warri Wolves 0-0 Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars 1-0 Abia Warriors
Lobi Stars 0-0 Enugu Rangers
Ifeanyi Ubah United 0-0 Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars 3-0 Heartland Owerri
Last matches Sunshine Stars
Sunshine Stars 1-1 Akwa Starlets
Rivers United FC 2-1 Sunshine Stars
Sunshine Stars 1-1 MFM FC
Adamawa United 0-3 Sunshine Stars
Sunshine Stars 4-2 Nasarawa United
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Akwa United
Katsina United 2-0 Sunshine Stars
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Enyimba
Lobi Stars form guide: LWDWDDW
Sunshine Stars form guide: DLDWWWLW
Head to Head games
Sunshine Stars 3-0 Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars 1-0 Sunshine Stars
Lobi Stars 1-0 Sunshine Stars
Sunshine Stars 1-1 Lobi Stars
Sunshine Stars 0-1 Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars 3-1 Sunshine Stars
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars 2-1 Sunshine Stars
Lobi Stars possible starting lineup:
Moses Ocheje, Moses Bunde, Ebube Duru, Ernest Governor, Adeleye Aniyikaye, Raphael Ayagwa, Abdulkareem Mumini, Samad Kadiri, Nzube Anaezemba, Tamara Ezekiel, Chinedu Udeagha
Sunshine Stars possible starting lineup:
Saliu Suleiman, Sunday Abe, Jonathan Zikiye, Kehinde Adeyemi, Tunde Abisoye, Jide Fatokun, Fuad Ekelojuoti, Waheed Adebayo, Israel Abia, Rilwan Sadiq, Timileyin Ogunniyi ‘Omo Jesu’
Teams Lobi Stars Sunshine Stars played so far 24 matches.
Lobi Stars won 10 direct matches. Sunshine Stars won 8 matches. 6 matches ended in a draw. On average in direct matches, both teams scored a 1.96 goals per Match.
Lobi Stars in actual season average scored 1.05 goals per match. In 10 (58.82%) matches played at home was total goals (team and opponent) Over 1.5 goals. In 9 (52.94%) matches in season 2020 played at home was total goals (team and opponent) Over 2.5 goals.
Sunshine Stars average scored 1.12 goals per match in season 2020. In 9 (56.25%) matches played away was total goals (team and opponent) Over 1.5 goals. In 4 (25.00%) matches played away team was total goals (team and opponent) Over 2.5 goals.