Rivers United’s hold on the top spot in the last six weeks is under threat this Sunday evening at Dipo Dina Stadium in Ijebu-Ode, the temporary home of Sunshine Stars of Akure. Here, Plateau United will go for a win, and if achieved, the result will lift them to the top of the table for the second time this season. Abdu Maikaba’s squad were top of the table on Matchday 13.
Rivers United squandered their 17th minute advantage on Saturday at the Nest of Champions in Uyo as home side Akwa United’s Adeyeye Adeyemi struck just two minutes after the restart to share the spoils with the Pride of Rivers, who now lead Plateau United by just two points.
Head coach, Stanley Eguma said Rivers United would strive to keep the momentum. ‘We are focused and determined to maintain the lead to enable us meet our aspirations by the end of the season.
‘We will continue to give our best, knowing that the second half of the season is always the business end. All the teams have regrouped and will be difficult, especially when you play the relegation-threatened teams’, Eguma analysed.
In Ijebu-Ode this Sunday, Sunshine Stars will seek to reverse the result of Matchday 19 when Fidelis Ilechukwu’s Plateau United beat them 2-0 in Jos.
Sunshine Stars prevailed by an odd goal in the five-goal thriller with Plateau United last season in Akure.
Third to fifth spots on the table are up for grabs. While third placed Rangers are away to Lobi Stars in Makurdi, the fifth and fourth placed teams – Kwara United and Remo Stars – will do battle at Kwara Stadium complex in Ilorin.
Rangers prevailed 3-2 when Lobi Stars visited their temporary home in Awka City Stadium just before the break. The Ortom Boys have lost their last five matches, including two at home; a situation that bodes good news for Rangers, who have not lost in five straight matches, even thrashing defending champions Akwa United 3-0 in Uyo two matches ago.
Last time out, Kwara United suffered heavily at Remo Stars Stadium, Ikenne-Remo with the hosts prevailing 3-0. The Harmony Boys therefore have to double up to not only win but also move up from fifth to fourth on the log.
Wikki Tourists, Sunshine Stars, Shooting Stars and Enyimba are within touching distance of title holders Akwa United, who are in sixth. Two points separate all the teams. But Akwa United have already played their weekend game.
Two of quartet –Wikki Tourists and Enyimba – go head-to-head at Enyimba International Stadium in Aba. Both of them could not be separated at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi. The controversy-riddled game ended goalless.
Enyimba drew their last home fixture 1-1 against Plateau United, while Wikki Tourists lost by a lone goal to Katsina United the last time they were on the road.
For Shooting Stars, who are in ninth spot, three wins in a row will lift the Oluyole Warriors as much as three steps up. The reverse fixture in Ibadan recorded one single, but significant goal.
Down the ladder, bottom-placed MFM and the others teams in the danger zone – Lobi Stars, Heartland and Niger Tornadoes – must begin their revival struggle as the second half of the season opens. Also threatened are Dakkada FC, Katsina United, Nasarawa United, Kano Pillars and Gombe United.
Sunday’s fixtures: Enyimba v Wikki Tourists, Kwara United v Remo Stars, Sunshine Stars v Plateau United, Nasarawa United v Shooting Stars, Niger Tornadoes v Dakkada FC, Lobi Stars v Rangers, Gombe United v Kano Pillars, MFM v Heartland (all 4 pm)
Saturday’s result: Akwa United 1-1 Rivers United
Postponed: Katsina United v Abia United
Additional reports by LMC Media