By Taye Hassan Adigun
Heartland will be expected to claim three points when they meet the top of the Nigeria Professional Football League Standings Plateau United at Okigwe Township Stadium on Sunday.
Fidelis Ilechukwu‘s men find themselves in the bottom half of the table seventh place after 6 games following a stellar start to life in the top flight, while Plateau United are enjoying a good ride in the top flight under Abdul Maikaba.
Much like Plateau United, the Naze Millionaires have taken to this division as they were Premier League regulars.
Under the close watch of Abdul Maikaba, the tin city side has played with a relentless level of discipline and energy since November, moving as one unit all across the pitch. They were held at home by former champions Kano Pillars to a 0-0 draw in the matchday 06 of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
The host under the guidance of the Anambra born tactician must know that they must produce much-improved performances over the next few games in order to get their campaign back on track before a busy Christmas period.
Should Plateau United claim all three points on Sunday over Heartland, it would arguably be on a level footing with their away victory over Jigawa Golden Stars ad Delta Force in November. That fact alone demonstrates the lofty standards set by Wilder’s men after just 6 games in the Premier League and it will be a disaster for the Naze Millionaires this season as they are yet to find their rhythm.
They beat relegated Niger Tornadoes in the first 3 games of the 2017/2018 Nigeria Professional Football League in front of their home ground in Lokoja.
It will be fascinating to compare the rhythm and tone of the performances from both sides when they meet in front of an expectant Okigwe Township stadium crowd under the cold breeze weather on Sunday evening.
Recent Plateau United form: WWWWDD
Plateau United Previous games
Plateau United 0-0 Kano Pillars
Delta Force 1-3 Plateau United
Nasarawa United 1-1 Plateau United
Plateau United 2-1 Wikki Tourist
Jigawa Golden Stars 0-1 Plateau United
Plateau United 3-1 Lobi Stars
Kada City 0-0 Plateau United
Plateau United 2-0 Yobe Desert Stars
Recent Heartland form: LWLDDL
Heartland Previous Games
Wikki Tourist 1-0 Heartland Owerri
Heartland Owerri 1-0 Jigawa Golden Stars
Lobi Stars 3-0 Heartland Owerri
Heartland Owerri 1-1 Akwa Starlets
Rivers United FC 1-1 Heartland Owerri
Heartland Owerri0-1MFM FC
Heartland Owerri 2-0 El Kanemi Warriors
Gombe United 1-0 Heartland Owerri
Head to Head
Plateau United 0-0 Heartland Owerri
Heartland Owerri 3-0 Plateau United
Heartland Owerri 1-1 Plateau United
Plateau United 3-0 Heartland Owerri
Heartland Owerri 0-0 Plateau United
Plateau United 1-0 Heartland Owerri
Heartland Owerri 2-1 Plateau United
Teams Heartland Owerri Plateau United played so far 7 matches.
Heartland Owerri won 2 direct matches. Plateau United won 2 matches. 3 matches ended in a draw. On average in direct matches both teams scored a 1.71 goals per Match.
Heartland Owerri in actual season average scored 1.00 goals per match. In 11 (78.57%) matches played at home was total goals (team and opponent) Over 1.5 goals. In 6 (42.86%) matches in season 2019 played at home was total goals (team and opponent) Over 2.5 goals.
Plateau United average scored 1.00 goals per match in season 2019. In 7 (50.00%) matches played away was total goals (team and opponent) Over 1.5 goals. In 4 (28.57%) matches played away team was total goals (team and opponent) Over 2.5 goals.
Plateau United back-man Andrew Ikefe will make the trip despite speculation of leaving the club due to some financial obligations the management of the team has not fulfil.
Stand-in captain Daniel Itodo, Ibrahim Babawo, Ibrahim Mustapha Yuga and Oche Salefu are expected to make the trip to Okgiwe.
Heartland will be banking on their Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa to mount the post for the Naze Millionaires. While the duo Chinedu Efugh, Ike Thankgod, Christain Pyagbara and Chinedu Ohanachom could lead the attack.