When this Matchday is concluded tomorrow, this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League will have 10 more rounds of matches to wrap it all up. If they keep their eyes on the ball, Rivers United will break the jinx by winning the top flight league for the first time in their present status.
One of their two precursors – Dolphins FC – lifted the title three times – 1997, 2004 and 2011 – before they were merged with Sharks to birth Rivers United in 2016.
Rivers United go into this Matchday seven points clear of second placed Plateau United. They will aim to avoid defeat – if not win – at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.
But Heartland, who are desperate for points to crawl out of the relegation zone, have revenge on their minds having lost the first leg in Port Harcourt 3-1.
Heartland won their last two home games against title chasing Plateau United and Abia Warriors, while the Pride of Rivers lost their last two matches on the road to Sunshine Stars and Kwara United.
Tomorrow, Plateau United are home to Wikki Tourists and the outcome of this evening’s fixture in Owerri will determine how much ground they have to cover to rattle Rivers United.
Also tomorrow, fourth placed Remo Stars host No 3 Rangers with two points between them. No 3 is significant being the last continental qualification spot through the NPFL. While the first two teams will be registered for the CAF Champions League, the third placed team and the Aiteo Cup champions will play in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.
Today’s fixtures include Enyimba welcoming Lobi Stars to the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba.
The People’s Elephant lie seventh on the log after a not-so-impressive season for coach Finidi George’s squad. Qualifying for Africa is not out of reach yet, but Enyimba must be consistent and hope for poor run by teams ahead of them.
Lobi Stars are just two points above the drop zone. They can’t afford to drop too many points.
The Ortom Boys won the first leg by a lone goal in Makurdi.
Also not so far off the bottom four are Niger Tornadoes who host Gombe United in Kaduna, their adopted home. The first leg ended with a lone goal for Gombe United.
Today’s fixtures: Enyimba v Lobi Stars, Niger Tornadoes v Gombe United, Heartland v Rivers United (all 4 pm)
Sunday’s games: Sunshine Stars v Akwa United, Kwara United v Shooting Stars, MFM v (30 -15), Kano Pillars, Remo Stars v Rangers, Plateau United v Wikki Tourists, Dakkada FC v Abia Warriors, Katsina United v Nasarawa United (all 4 pm)