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Uniteds – Rivers, Plateau – contend for top spot in NPFL

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Three weeks into the season’s halfway break, two United teams have maintained the lead positions for three weeks running. And they will keep the pace no matter the outcome of Matchday 17 games which are held this weekend.

Rivers United, also known as the Pride of Rivers, have indeed made their fans so proud as they rose from ninth spot on the opening day of the season to shoot their way to the summit.

Apart from a lone goal setback to Plateau United in Jos on Matchday 11, Rivers United have been unbeaten, winning 10 times and sharing honours five other times. Away victories in Aba against Enyimba, in Lagos against MFM and also versus Kano Pillars have helped in catapulting Port Harcourt team to No 1.

Rivers United will contend with Shooting Stars in Port Harcourt on Sunday in what is perhaps the Match-of-the Week. Shooting Stars’ return to the topflight have seen the Ibadan side operate off-and-on. From 16 matches, they have only harvested 20 points to place three points and five steps above the relegation four.

For Plateau United, Sunday’s fixture pits them against Katsina United, who are leading the relegation zone having collected 17 points from 16 matches.

Like Rivers United, Plateau United also started the season poorer at No 17 from the 20-team league. Now they are only a point shy of the top spot.  The squad of Abdu Maikaba will be buoyed by the 2-0 win over Lobi Stars in Makurdi midweek.

In the earlier games on Saturday, Rangers will host Gombe United in Enugu, while Heartland in Okigwe welcome Niger Tornadoes. Victory will lift the Flying Antelopes to No 3, while waiting for the outcome of the matches involving Remo Stars and Akwa United.

Gombe United, one of the three teams promoted to the elite league this season, are in the first half of the table (ninth), going up against fifth placed Rangers. Both sides are separated by two points.

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