Which team will lead the rest of the field into the second half of the season that is due to begin next weekend?
The contest of log leadership is between current No 1 Rivers United and Plateau United. Both are separated by just a point, while the latter have a four-point advantage over Rangers in third. The Flying Antelopes have however played their own Matchday 19 unlike the two front runners.
Home is where both table toppers will play this Sunday – Rivers United hosting reigning champions Akwa United, and Plateau United welcome improving Sunshine Stars to the New Jos Stadium.
Rivers United’s winning streak of four matches since Matchday 14 when they beat Rangers by a lone goal in Port Harcourt. Three matches thereafter fetched victory for the Pride of Rivers, but their last fixture at the Pantami Township Stadium in Gombe a week ago ended goalless against Gombe United.
Akwa United, who will be at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt this Sunday, are placed fifth on the log, 12 points behind the leaders.
The title holders suffered 0-3 at home last Sunday when Rangers visited. In their last five games, the Promise Keepers have a statistic of 2-1-2, which included 0-3 bashing by Plateau United on Matchday 15.
Plateau United will go for victory against the Akure Gunners and hope that Rivers United slip up against Akwa United. Unbeaten in 10 games, Fidelis Ilechukwu’s squad had sent all nine teams that visited the New Jos Stadium this season back home empty-handed.
Sunshine Stars do not look likely to survive in Jos going by their away record of four draws and five defeats this season. Indeed, the last time Head Coach Deji Ayeni led his squad to pick a point on the road was seven matchdays ago when Nasarawa United forced a 1-1 result at the Lafia Township Stadium.
Sunshine Stars are seventh on the table but will move up with a positive result in Jos if Akwa United and Remo Stars disappoint.
Rangers have already finished at No 3 mid-season having played their Matchday 19 on Saturday. In that game at their temporary home in Awka City Stadium, the Flying Antelopes won an eight-goal thriller 5-3 as Kenechukwu Agu and Ossy Martins produced a brace each in the first half, while Chidiebere Nwobodo added the fifth two minutes after the half time break. Lobi Stars fought back spiritedly afterwards with goals from Raphael Ayagwa (57th minute penalty), Joshua Akhabue (66th) and Douglas Achiv (81st). But the home side held on till the final whistle.
All the teams in danger had their day on Saturday, and their fate is sealed mid-term. So, Niger Tornadoes, Heartland, Lobi Stars and MFM will remain in the relegation zone as the second half of the season commences next Sunday.
Sunday fixtures: Plateau United v Sunshine Stars, Wikki Tourist v Enyimba, Rivers United v Akwa United, Shooting Stars v Nasarawa United, Remo Stars v Kwara United, Abia Warriors v Katsina United, Kano Pillars v Gombe United (all 4 pm)
Saturday’s results: Heartland 0-0 MFM, Abia Warriors 2-2 Katsina United, Rangers 5-3 Lobi Stars, Dakkada 2-1 Niger Tornadoes