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Struggling Nasarawa Utd await resurgent Pillars as Lobi host Abia Warriors

Match Day 8 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is expected to throw up some fireworks this weekend at some centres across the country.…

Match Day 8 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is expected to throw up some fireworks this weekend at some centres across the country.

In the week 7 matches played last weekend, there were big victories for giants like Kano Pillars, Akwa United and Sunshine Stars who pummelled their opponents just as some less endowed sides showed grit to grind out favourable results.

Obviously, after an embarrassing start to the season which left them without a win in five matches, resurgent Kano Pillars are in buoyant spirit as they visit bottom-placed Nasarawa United at Lafia Township Stadium on Sunday.

Pillars who are now 10th on the table secured their second win of the season after drubbing Delta Force now Kwara United 6-1 at the Sani Abacha stadium, the same day Nasarawa United fell 4-2 at Sunshine Stars of Akure.

Going by their recent performances, Kano Pillars are highly favoured to get a good result against the ‘Solid miners’ who are the only team yet to win a single match in the ongoing NPFL season.

Speaking with Nyima Nwagua who opened the gate of goals for Kano Pillars in Uyo, the lanky striker said he was glad that God used him to end his team’s miserable run.

He also promised to work extra hard to score against Nasarawa United on Sunday.

“It feels really good. I feel really excited because that’s my department because upfront is where I’m been paid to score goals and you can see the season started poorly for all of us, up front. It was a difficult moment for us but I was never really under any pressure.

“We are back and we would continue doing our best to recover all that we lost when the league commenced.”

Pillars are brimming with confidence but their hosts are also talking tough despite recent failures. A former junior international, Abubakar Lawal is the one to lead his team against his former employers.

“We all know what Kano Pillars are coming with. They have some of the best players in the league. However, we are not giving them too much respect.

“It won’t be a stroll in the park for them. Our game plan is intact,” he said.

In Jos, table toppers, Plateau United will welcome FC IfeanyiUbah as they try to recover from their first defeat of the season on Sunday in Okigwe.

The 2017 NPFL Champions were made to rue tons of chances they had missed in the course of the match when Amah Chibundu came off the bench to score what could pass for goal of the season.

Plateau United are now sitting precariously on the top and they know that any further slip will see them relinquishing their top spot to Wikki Tourists, Akwa Starlets or Lobi Stars.

Golbe Elisha, captain of Plateau United told Trust Sports that the ‘god of soccer’ was not on their side against the Nazi Millionaires.

“Nothing went wrong, we did the best. A game like that, we never can tell because it was a shot from outside. We did our best but the ‘god of soccer’ was not on our side that day,” he said.

He also declared his team’s readiness to return to winning ways on Sunday.

“We take our matches one game at a time. We have to pull ourselves together as a team and ensure we get the maximum points against FC IfeanyiUbah on Sunday at home. We are prepared for the match and remain focused.

“We don’t want to lose any match again for the rest of the season,” Elisha declared.

For the ‘Anambra Warriors’, as FC IfeanyiUbah are called, they are returning to a familiar terrain where they pulled a sensational goalless draw in the first game of last season.

In another game of the day, Kwara United which recently acquired Delta Force host, giant slayers, Heartland at the Kwara Sports Stadium, Ilorin.

The Ilorin based club will continue from where Delta Force who were beaten black and blue by a resurgent Kano Pillars last weekend stopped.

However, they will surely find Heartland who are high on confidence a hard nut to crack.

At the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, Jigawa Golden who are already battling against relegation will fight to turn around their fortunes when they host Warri Wolves.

Warri Wolves themselves have not been fantastic as well as they have won just a game so far this season.

At the Nest of Champions, Uyo, it will be an interesting clash between giant-killers, Akwa Starlets and defending champions, Enyimba.

The 2019 Champion of the Nigeria National League who are now known as Dakkada FC have been in great form having won 3 games, drawn three and lost one game to place third on the table.

Interestingly, even though they are making their debut appearance in the topflight, Akwa Starlets have defeated more illustrious opponents like Warri Wolves and IfeanyiUbah.

They however, found Kano Pillars too big to hold when they suffered a 1-2 loss at home in a rescheduled week 2 fixture.

Meanwhile, Enyimba whose season has not been too impressive will look to find their mojo back when they visit the Nest of Champions’ in Uyo.

Enyimba FC captain Ifeanyi Anaemena has told his teammates to be wary of newcomers Dakkada FC.

“They may be new by name but not in performance. We all have seen what they have done so far. They are not playing like new boys.

“We know what is waiting for us in Uyo so we are not taking anything for granted. It has not been easy combining the Confederation Cup with the domestic league but as professionals, we are coping fine,” he said.

At the Aper Aku Stadium, Lobi Stars who have not tasted defeat again since their opening day mishap at Plateau United will aim to keep their unbeaten run when they play host to Abia Warriors.

Lobi Stars who boast of some of the best players in the league like Alimi Sikiru, Raphael Ayagwa, Ebube Duru, John Lazarus, David Tyavkase and Solomon Kwambe are highly favoured to pick the maximum points.

However, they must tread cautiously considering that their opponents are being led to Makurdi by tested players like Obaroakpo Austin, Fatai Abdullahi, Oghenetega Ebetomame,  Bello Lukman,  Auta Philip and Oni S. Jimoh

At the Agege Stadium, Lagos, MFM known as the ‘Olukoya Boys’ will welcome  Akwa United who snapped their winless run with a 4-0 comprehensive victory over Adamawa United in the Match Day 7 clash.

The ‘Promise Keepers’ from Akwa Ibom got their first league win with Ndifreke Effiong scoring a hat-trick to bring some calm to the team and a much needed relief for Head Coach, John Obuh.

However, everyone knows the pedigree of youngsters from Agege. They are for now the only team to have won two away matches this season. They won their opening match away at Heartland before their historic 1-0 victory over Enugu Rangers at the ‘Cathedral’.

Other matches to be played on Sunday will see Rivers United taking on Katsina United at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port-Harcourt while Adamawa United will host Sunshine Stars at the Pantanmi Stadium, Gombe.

Meanwhile, this afternoon in Gombe, the mouth-watering fixture between second-placed Wikki Tourists and embattled Enugu Rangers will herald the Sunday Fixtures.

The battered and wounded ‘Fling antelopes’ from Enugu will be fighting for the maximum points that would aid their movement out of the drop zone.

Rangers have been woeful in the continent recording back to back defeats in the Confederation Cup.

Their most recent defeat in the Confederation Cup was the 2-4 loss at Al Masry of Egypt.

However, considering their enviable record in the domestic league, they are not a side to be dismissed with a wave of the hand.

With tested and trusted players like Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, Tony Shimaga, Isaac Loute, Pape Ousmane Sane, Ugonna Meshack Uzochukwu, Kelvin Itoya and Pascal Seka, Rangers will be a mountain to climb for Wikki Tourists.

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