As the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) returns on Saturday, TheCable takes a look at the week one fixtures and what each club is bringing to the party.
Abia Warriors vs MFM FC
Abia Warriors have become a different team under Rafael Everton having churned out impressive results in pre-season games.
MFM failed to pick a point on their last two visits to Umuahia and with the departure of Stephen Odey, Sikiru Olatunbosun and Adekunle Adegboyega will be expected to deliver the goods.
Wikki Tourists vs Go Round FC
Newcomers, Go Round, are an unknown bunch and their head coach, Ngozi Elechi, has decided to stick with the same players who helped the club secure promotion.
Wikki Tourists survived relegation last season but they have experience in the likes of Nafiu Kabuga, Shammah Tanze and Idris Sabo.
Katsina United vs Kano Pillars
In this fixture last term, Kastina United got the bragging rights with a 1-0 victory.
Pillars’ coach Ibrahim Musa will hope to start the new campaign on a winning note in a bid to fulfill his promise of a continental berth.
While Kastina have Lukman Mohammed and Ebenezer Odeyemi, Pillars will bank on new signings; Nzube Anaezemba and Adewale Ojebisi to complement the efforts of other regulars.
Nasarawa United vs Plateau United
In four top-flight head-to-head meetings since 2016, Nasarawa United have managed just a win against the reigning league champions.
Despite Plateau United’s seeming upper hand, the match promises to be a tight affair.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah vs Yobe Desert Stars
The likes of Bright Onyedikachi, Godwin Obaje, Drissa Bamba and Saviour Francis will be instrumental for the Anambra Warriors.
Yobe Desert Stars gaffer Baba Ganaru will rely on players such as Chidiebere Ajoku, Philip Auta and Itodo Akor.
On paper, Ifeanyi Ubah appears to have the advantage by virtue of experience.
Heartland FC vs Sunshine Stars
Sunshine Stars have won their last two away games against Heartland.
However, because of Heartland’s desire to make a statement on their return to the top flight, they could be more motivated to win.
Kwara United vs Niger Tornadoes
On paper, Niger Tornadoes should blow off Kwara United but the Ilorin club will not want to be rolled over.
Though Sam Obuh has lost experienced legs like Segun Alebiosu and Solomon Owello, the Harmony Boys will not want to drop points in this game.
Akwa United vs Enugu Rangers
Akwa United will be targeting maximum points when they entertain Enugu Rangers at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
But the Flying Antelopes have a new coach, Gbenga Ogunbote, who may have a tactical masterstroke up his sleeves.
Ogunbote has the likes of Abu Azeez, Ibrahim Salau, Felix Ogbuke and Ibrahim Ajani at his disposal while Akwa United manager Abdu Maikaba will expect new signees; Ajibola Otegbeye, Adeshina Issa Gata, Yenne Tenton and Victor Mbaoma to strengthen his side.
This game will be a big test for both sides.
Rivers United vs El Kanemi Warriors
Rivers United and their supporters will be hoping for a better NPFL campaign this time around.
Stanley Eguma, Rivers United coach, is bullish about his side’s chances this season despite losing key players in the off-season.
Elkanemi Warriors, under the tutelage of Imama Amakpakabo, appear destined for a top-five finish after bringing in key players in areas they suffered last season.
Lobi Stars vs Enyimba FC
It’s been nine years since Lobi Stars last won the league trophy and they will start this term with a match at home against Enyimba.
In 26 league meetings with Enyimba, Stars have won seven, drawn eight and lost 11 matches.
If David Tyavkase and Kingsley Eduwo get a look in, then Enyimba could be in for a tough duel.
But with the inclusion of Abdulrahman Bashir, Wasiu Alalade and Mfon Udoh in the line up of the People’s Elephants, the game promises to be a cracker.
Copyright 2018 TheCable. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.thecable.ng as the source.