- Published on Saturday, 01 April 2017 19:21
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The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is edging close to the halfway mark and all of the 20 clubs will start taking their stocks of their performances in the first round. By Sunday, it will be 79 calendar days since the season started, and the fixtures for this matchday has some of the eye-catching and mouthwatering contests including an Oriental Derby that will be played in Calabar.
The race for top spot is also up for grabs this weekend and any of the top-three teams, table-toppers MFM FC, Plateau United and El-Kanemi Warriors could end the matchday at the top of the pile depending on how results pan out in their different matches.
The talking point will not just be about the teams at the top, the champions Rangers International and last season's runners-up Rivers United prop up the rear and both play on the road in very tricky games.
And of course, Stephen Odey is top dog going into this matchday after scoring 13 goals in 12 appearances.
300-goal mark around the corner
The league season is yet to reach that two goals per game average yet, but it is now closing in on a milestone of 300 goals in this campaign. It is a packed fixture of 10 games on Sunday and it is expected that the goals will flow at the different venues to see the league clock or even surpass the 300-goal mark. Anyway just nine goals are needed to reach that mark.
Two titans of the league clash
The most successful clubs in the history of the top division will go toe to toe in an Oriental Derby. It is Enyimba versus Rangers. Both clubs have 14 league titles between them - seven apiece. No other team in the country have those numbers in terms of NPFL titles won. This game this time does not typify the poster clash of the matchday it should be considering the stop-start form of the two teams.
Title holders Rangers languish in bottom spot, a situation which leaves their fans in shock and has put the future of their coach Imama Amapakabo in doubt following a three-game ultimatum served him and this being the last of those game without a win to convince his employers.
Enyimba, by their standards of being the most successful club in Nigeria having won the CAF Champions League twice apart from their seven league and four Federation Cup titles, are eight point behind the leaders and sit in eighth spot in the standings. So can we say this is a game finely-poised considering the poo, or inconsistent, display of the two teams this term so far?
El-Kanemi eye 22nd straight home win
It is a different story for Maiduguri side El-Kanemi Warriors. They have evolved from being strugglers last term to become one of the pacesetters this season. Their impressive run this season has also come on the back of their invincibility in home matches since 10 April, 2016. The Borno Army have won their last 21 home games and are seeking to make it 22 on the spin when former champions Kano Pillars come calling.
Coaching classmates go face to face
More than 800 kilometres away from Maiduguri, two classmates from the recent CAF B-Licence coaching course in Abuja should be in the dugout to lead their teams out for Sunday's NPFL game at the Lafia City Stadium where Nasarawa United will play hosts to leaders MFM FC. Fidelis Ilechukwu will be in charge of MFM and Kabiru Dogo will bark out instructions from the sidelines for Nasarawa United. So this will afford us the opportunity to see which of the coaches have learned one or two new football coaching tricks from their weeklong programme in the country's capital.
Can Wikki halt their poor away form?
Only team now with the unpleasant tag of no point on the road are Wikki Tourists. But the Wikki do have quite a Herculean task to overcome in Plateau United at the Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos if they intend to get their first point on the road this season. By 6pm on Sunday, the complexion of things in the NPFL will be revealed.
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