Enugu, Aba on fire as the chase continues

Posted by By Eddie Akalonu on 2004/07/17 | Views: 513 |

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Enugu, Aba on fire as the chase continues


Leaders Iwuanyanwu Nationale are away to El Kanemi Warriors. So are second placed Dolphin in Ilorin to keep a date with Kwara United. Except any of Nationale or Dolphin draw or win, then not much change would occur in the standing.

Leaders Iwuanyanwu Nationale are away to El Kanemi Warriors. So are second placed Dolphin in Ilorin to keep a date with Kwara United. Except any of Nationale or Dolphin draw or win, then not much change would occur in the standing.

However, a lot would change for the standings of Enyimba, Insurance, Kano Pillars, Enugu Rangers and Julius Berger because they are all at home very comfortably to host opponents.

Last week, Insurance and Lobi made good mess of their opponents, on the way to chalking up three points each and showed how functional their attacking machinery is. With no draw recorded in the seven games played, Lobi latched to a 4-0 ruthless demolition of El Kanemi, and proved it was no fluke when a similar score-line was registered against the Justin Tenge led Gombe United in Makurdi.

Then Shooting stars fell like a pack of cards 4-1 to Insurance in Benin and really left their fans in doubt about their ability, following an earlier 4-1 loss to NPA in Lagos two weeks back.
However, how will it go for the teams at the different centres? We present a Preview of the matches.

El Kanemi vs Nationale

Things are not pretty rosy for the Warriors right now as relegation is just outside their door knocking. For a team that wins only at home and loses all away, the 31 points in their kitty is just not enough and could be a measure of challenge to Nationale, who are sitting top of the table on 45 points.
By now, coach Tunde Abdulrhaman who once boasted El Kanemi are in contention for the title, can longer be proud of his boys.

Nationale were brave last week to beat Julius Berger 1-0 to take a three point lead and with good away record, coach Ufere Nwankwo could angle for a win or draw, if the players give 100 percent effort and Mike Ochei actually relives his old form.

Telling lapses of concentration on the part by Nationale back men of goalie Longinus Duru, defenders Calistus Nwankwo and Joe Irechukwu and lack of key play-maker like Paul Obiefule could cost them, as El Kanemi could bank on home advantage to do the damage.

Enyimba vs Insurance

This is the clash of the Titans and revenge a factor. Insurance surprised enthusiasts last week when they drowned Shooting Stars 4-1 in Benin . But it remains to be seen whether they can carry same energy to Aba for a continuation against a top side as the defending champions.
Godwin Uwua will present a line up not so defensively inclined but attack based because he would want to win to prove a point against his former team.

The Peoples Elephant are looking heavily confident and sure to march into the arena to crush Gabriel Benson and mates.

They have much confident in Champions League 3-0 away win over Africa Sports in Ivory Coast and would no doubt step out to re-live the experience before their fans. The absence of defender Obinna Nwaneri and mid fielder Onyekachi Okonkwo who are back in South Africa for a club, would only allow coach Okey Emordi to field more eloquent players as Damian Ude and Oge Ileagu.

The Dele Aiyenugba guided defense must win to put themselves back up as supporters are not happy with the defending champions 37 points and sixth position on the table. A win will most certainly restore much confidence because the Peoples Elephants’ nine losses this season has cast a doubt on them .
Emordi will definitely go for an attacking strategy that tends to work down whatever wall of defense Insurance adopt.

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Rangers vs Lobi

Maurice Cooreman, the only foreign coach in the league has most certainly made hay with the Lobi side whose clash with Rangers in Enugu will be very explosive. Cooreman’s effort has been reflected in Lobi’s last two games that came off in very high scores. One was the 3-2 loss to Berger in Abeokuta after they led 2-0 and then the 4-0 bashing of El Kanemi at home.

This attitude will be carried forward which is what Rangers coach, Lawrence Apkokona must watch as he presents a team that will not just go all out to win but avenge the 2-0 loss suffered in Makurdi in the early round.
Rock of Gilbralter and goalie, Sam Okoye will lead out mates that include Oluwole Johnson and Uche Okereke who must all put out a big performance to win and remain a factor to contend with for the top honours.
While they surge forward in search of goals, Rangers must also watch out for the good hunters in Lobi with names such as Taiye Taiwo and Onyekachi Okoye in mind.

Kano Pillars vs NPA

How will it be for the NPA Seasiders this weekend? Can Kano Pillars slip and provide the Seasiders the break they need to swing out of the red so completely today in Kano?

That much can only be answered depending on the formation coach Bitrus Biwarang and assistant, John Obuh adopt against the Lagos side who need an away win badly to cancel the mistakes made in the earlier rounds. Over the past weeks, NPA have re-enforced their play with impressive results.
They are now showing the form needed to cancel out the poor runs and mistakes of the first round as well as match the surprise final effort of last season that earned them promotion into the Premier League. The continuous win in Lagos may just be too late to avoid the drop at the end of the day ,if it is not capped with an away effort.

Strikers John Owoeri and Gbemi Akinrolabu are in form. So also are mid fielders Yusuf Jaiyeola and Dan Ukoh. But the Seasiders will need a bigger heart to survive the biting heat Pillars would exert no doubt.
After beating Jets 1-0 away and going to Bauchi to drop the three points to Wikki, Pillars may not be in the mood to mess around.

Jets vs Wikki

From a humble start, Mighty Jets have become the weeping baby of the league, no thanks to poor finances. But how did the Nigeria Football Association admit a club without money into the league? How come this team is alleged not to pay salary to it’s players yet, they are still a Premier League side? For a team that has set a precedent to lose at home of recent, Wikki may just be on the way to earning three free points given Jets precarious position.

This is not saying the Highlanders are finished as they could embark on a great come back that would astound all, more especially Wikki when they are least expecting it.

Kwara vs Dolphin

Two FA Cup hotshots meet in Ilorin to rehearse what could turn out the real thing when they meet eventually. But for this, it is a battle for points between two attacking sides with flair for wing play and possession- play.
Jokar Wreakar the Liberian born tactician who has made his mark in Nigerian club football, filing out against Musa Abdulahi, who has rich experience working with the various levels of the national teams. Wreaker promised Dolphin will fall when he spoke in Lagos recently.

“We have shown ability to beat the big teams. Dolphin will not be an exception when we meet in Ilorin. We will go all out to match them ball for ball and win which is the ultimate,” the Liberian said.
With 42 points, Dolphin are in need of a win or draw to actualise their dream to shoot past Nationale for the crown
And there is Kwara with 33 points and barely sitting above the danger zone eager to win and keep it’s place.

Ilorin ball-fans cannot but be glad to come out in their thousands for a big presentation. Those to watch out for are Left footed Kazeem Ahmed, Sunday Okoh, Victor Obinna and Dan Njoku whose skills have so confounded pundits they are wondering why Kwara are not doing well.

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