NPFL 2020/21 Season Match previews
The much-awaited Nigeria Professional Football League 2020/21 season will go live this weekend after several delays from the League Management Company and Federal government presidential task force on coronavirus pandemic lifted the ban on contact sports due to the rampaging coronavirus which forced several domestic leagues all over the cancelled including the 2019/2020 football league season which include the NPFL.
Here are the match previews of matches that will kick off this Sunday.
Nasarawa United v Wikki Tourists
Both clubs went on spending spree during the offseason transfer window to fine-tune their squad ahead of the new season with the aim of competing in the next CAF inter-club competitions.
Nasarawa United will be hoping to continue their fine form against Wikki Tourists in their first competitive league match this Sunday as they were the talk of the town after beating Plateau United and Kano Pillars in their series of preseason warm-up games during the offseason break.
Last season they were on the brink of relegating back to the second division of the Nigeria domestic league after their first-ever worst start of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League
Meanwhile, Wikki Tourists, on the other hand, have been able to acquire some of the league’s experience legs courtesy of their France trained manager Usman Abdallah , the Bauchi Elephant secured the services of Bright Emmanuel (DMF), Stephen Chukwude (Attacker), and Thomas Zenke (MF) who played under current Wikki boss, Usman Abdullahi during his time with the People’s Elephant.
Prediction: Nasarawa United 2-1 Wikki Tourists
Adamawa United v Kano Pillars
With the new season dominating the fixture calendar this last week of 2020, Adamawa United will welcome 2014 champions and Aiteo Cup winners Kano Pillars to their temporary home ground the Pantami Stadium, Gombe.
Last time season was the worst outing for the Yola based club, the land of beauty based club conceded 10 goals from top marksmen last season. Israel Abia (2), Ndifreke Effiong (3), Mustapha Ibrahim (2), Auwal Ali Malam (1) and Victor Mbaoma (2). sitting at the bottom of the league log from match-week 01 of the season
Their previous meetings see Kano pillars ran away with a 2-0 victory at home in Kano. Sai Masu Gida will have to shrug off their ouster from the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round in the hand of Burkina Faso based AS Jaraaf after loosing on 3-1aggregate.
With the coming in of former South Africa outfit AS Leopards manager Emmanuel Soccia during the offseason, the Kano giants have failed to live to their expectations after loosing to Nasarawa United 5-0 at their temporary home ground Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna which many bookmakers as one of their worst defeat in any match they have played in.
Prediction: Adamawa United 0-2 Kano Pillars
Akwa United v Dakkada FC
The orange derby will light up the Nigeria Professional Football League opening day fixtures as the two of the biggest teams in the South-South will lock horn against each other in Uyo at the Nest of Champions Stadium.
Akwa United ran away with a 2-1 win over Dakkada last season, could continue this season as there was mass exodus of players during the offseason transfer window.
Akwa United could fight for the NPFL title this season with the return of all goalscorer Mfon Udoh back to the Nest of Champions which will see him teaming up with Ndifreke Effiong upfront.
In fairness to the newly appointed Umaru Kasawu ‘s men, they have coped with it admirably; the gut-wrenching lost to their rival in 2019/2020 before the outbreak of coronavirus sees them dropping from the continental position.
Prediction : Akwa United v Dakkada 1-1
Plateau United v Kwara United
Plateau United will go into their first opening fixture of the new season against Kwara United who almost says goodbye to the Nigeria Professional Football League after acquiring Delta Force’s slot last season with a win to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd after a disappointing exit CAF Champions League.
Plateau United did well to fly past hard fighting Flight FA 2-1. A brace from Sunday Adetunji put the Peace Boys in cruise control before Foga Dominic netted a consolation for the Gboko based side in the Gov. Ikepazu preseason tournament in Aba and loosing to a 2-1 defeat to one of their rivals Nasarawa United, before submitting to a 1-0 defeat against Tanzanian giants Simba SC in their first leg of the CAF Champions League preliminary round in Jos.
Kwara United is one of the busiest in the offseason NPFL transfer window with the arrival of former Niger Tornadoes midfielder Afeez Nosiru from Niger Tornadoes and veteran goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba.
The Afonja Warriors have an uphill task ahead of them in the first 5 games, they welcome Enyimba FC to Ilorin on the 10th for their match week 02.
Prediction: Plateau United 1-1 Kwara United
FC Ifeanyi Ubah v Lobi Stars
FC Ifeanyi Ubah have been experiencing a lot of financial backwardness for the past 3 seasons, they are have been quiet in the transfer window lately with several of their star-studded players have left the club, giving way to the players from their youth systems.
Lobi Stars succeeded in keeping most of their regulars of last season, the “Pride of Benue” are also quiet in the Nigeria Professional Football transfer window, with the arrival of well experience former Niger Tornadoes and Katsina United goalkeeper Mustapha Aliko and former Enyimba FC and MFM FC midfielder Chuwkuma Onuwa, it shows that the Makurdi based are in the race for the league title this season.
With the arrival of former Sunshine Stars Kabiru Dogo who he no time successfully infused his philosophy into the team have already yielded a positive result.
Both teams will go into the matchweek 01 with a positive mindset to grab all the maximum points.
Prediction: FC Ifeanyi Ubah 0-2 Lobi Stars
Rivers United v Rangers Internationals
Rivers United will go into this encounter with their heads high after recording a surprise 2-0 win over Bloemfontein Cletics of South Africa in the first leg CAF Confederation Cup round.
No doubt, the Stanley Eguma’s men are gunning for the NPFL title this season, as they have recruited massively with the arrival of well-experienced goalkeeper Theophilus Afekolahi and Ifeanyi Anaemena from Enyimba FC and Godwin Aguda from Rangers Internationals during the offseason transfer window.
Rangers Internationals would have to put the sudden demise of their favourite forward Ifeanyi George, the late forward was one of the key figures that rescue the flying antelopes from the drop last season.
With the renewal of coach Salisu Yusuf’s contract for another season, the management expects the coach to continue with his magic wind this season.
Prediction: Rivers United 2-1 Rangers Internationals
Jigawa Golden Stars v Sunshine Stars
The giant-killers will be hoping to secure maximum points against dreaded, but troubled Sunshine Stars in the opening fixtures of the match week 01 of the 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League season on Sunday at the Ahamdu Bello Stadium.
The sudden outbreak of coronavirus saved the Jigawa based club from relegating back to the second division of Nigeria’s domestic league, with most of their key players leaving the club, the giant killers can still pull the plug out of the Akure gunners who are trying to get to their boxes back to shape after a disappointing season.
Sunshine Stars also, have managed to get some best legs ahead of the new season, with the arrival of Samuel Agba from Jigawa Golden Stars and former Niger Tornadoes forward Osondu Jonathan.
Predictions: Jigawa Golden Stars v Sunshine Stars 0-2
Enyimba FC v Abia Warriors
No doubt this is one of the biggest derbies in the Nigeria Professional Football League as two arch-rivals Enyimba FC and Abia Warriors will slug it out against each other in the first opening of the 2020/21 season.
Previous games between these two teams have witnessed a lot of firepower and fracas between the fans which resulted in the ferocious atmosphere.
Last season Abia warriors their heaviest defeat in Warri, after both teams were banned to Warri.
Prediction: Enyimba FC 2-0 Abi Warriors
MFM FC v Warri Wolves
MFM FC will return back to their fortress this Sunday after the League Management Company approved Agege Stadium on provisional ground to host Warri Wolves in the Nigeria Professional Football League matchweek 01 encounter
The Tony Bulus’s men went to beat Heartland in last season and secured a draw against FC Ifeanyi Ubah, while Warri Wolves got their promotion back to the elite division beat Katsina United 2-0 in their first opening game and secured a draw against Akwa United last season.
Prediction: MFM FC v Warri Wolves 0-0
Katsina United v Heartland
Several speculations linking some of the key figures to rival clubs was the talk of the town during offseason transfer window for the Changi boys. Gambo Mohammed and Tasiu Lawal will play a vital role against Heartland when both teams kick off their opening fixtures this Sunday.
Both teams previous meetings ended in a draw
Prediction: Katsina United v Heartland 1-1