In another 13 weeks, the 2021/22 Nigeria Premier Football League season will be done and dusted. As it stands, the champions will emerge from among two of the seven “Uniteds” in the 20-team league.
Stand up Rivers and Plateau Uniteds!
Both teams have established a gulf between themselves and the other title chasing sides. While Rivers United, at 52 points, have a four-point advantage over second-placed Plateau United, the team from Jos are sitting eight points clear of Remo Stars in third, and 10, 11 and 12 points better than Rangers, Kwara United and the pair of Sunshine Stars and Akwa United respectively.
This Matchday, Rivers United and Plateau United are at home to Niger Tornadoes and Remo Stars respectively on Monday.
In 12 matches at home this term, only Sunshine have not succumbed to the Pride of Rivers as that Matchday 4 ended goalless.
Only last Thursday, Sunshine Stars inflicted the second defeat of the season on Rivers United, who can be counted upon to show Niger Tornadoes that they mean business; that indeed the league title is headed for Port Harcourt this time.
The fixture leg of this tie produced a barren outcome.
The last time the Ikoh Allah were on the road, they played 1-1 against Abia Warriors in Owerri.
Tornadoes are 12th on the log with 30 points from 24 matches, and six points away from the relegation zone.
For Plateau United, having failed to close the gap on Rivers United in the last Matchday, they will hope that there will be a slip up on the part of the leaders this time. But the Jos side are up against a Remo Stars team that are determined to feature in continental competition next season, a privilege that only the top 3 teams will have.
Plateau United have a 100 percent success rate in 12 home fixtures this season. If they maintain that awesome record, Remo, who usurped Rangers at No 3 midweek, may suffer a setback, if Rangers win against Kwara United.
Remo were triumphant 1-0 against Plateau United in the first leg.
Rangers have the advantage of reclaiming No 3 (even if temporarily) since they are playing a day ahead of Remo Stars. But their opponents Kwara United also have the ambition to represent Nigeria in a CAF competition through the league next season.
It is unlikely that Kano Pillars and MFM will leap out of the danger zone this Matchday. With points deduction applied against Kano Pillars as a result of the disruption of their last home match against Katsina United, both sides at the end of the log are each on 23 points, three points and a substantial goal difference from safety.
One of the consequences of the unruly action of Pillars’ fans will manifest on Monday when the Sai Masu Gida will resume playing their home fixtures outside their Kano ground. The MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja will be the action spot of the match against Sunshine Stars, who walloped their hosts 3-0 in the first leg.
MFM will have to wait till Wednesday to engage Abia Warriors at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri.
Sunday fixtures: Akwa United v Lobi Stars, Gombe United v Katsina United, Rangers v Kwara United (all 4 pm)
Monday’s fixtures: Plateau United v Remo Stars, Shooting Stars v Enyimba, Wikki Tourists v Heartland, Kano Pillars v Sunshine Stars, Rivers United v Niger Tornadoes (all 4 pm)
Tuesday’s game: Nasarawa United v Dakkada FC (4 pm)
Wednesday’s game: Abia Warriors v MFM (4 pm)