NPFL Preview: Ikenne agog for derby clash as Doma United seek resurgence in Gombe

The Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL resumes this weekend after the festive break.

Matchday 17 fixtures will be taking place across the country. Ten games are expected to be played this weekend and there will be special attention on the fixtures going down in Gombe, Benin, and Ikenne.

The past 16 rounds in the league have experienced breathtaking moments amongst participating clubs.

Ultimately, Remo Stars ended the year top of the league despite their 3-1 defeat to Heartland of Owerri in their last outing.

A total of 304 goals have been scored in 154 games amounting to a goal ratio of 1.97 goals per game.

So far, home teams have won 107 games while there have been only eight away wins with Enyimba becoming the latest away side to pick maximum points on the road.

Matchday one has been the highest goalscoring week registering 28 while week 12 is poised as the lowest goalscoring matchday with 11 goals.

Sikiru Alimi is still the highest goalscorer with 11 goals while Robert Mizo is breathing down his neck with 10 goals. Mizo unfortunately is exiting from the league after securing a lucrative deal in Libya with Al Hilal on Friday.

The exiting Bayelsa United goal poacher was the NPFL’s highest goalscorer in the 2023 calendar year with 19 goals.

Four games to watch out for
Derby clash in Ikenne
Daniel Ogunmodede and his warriors have yet to lose any derby game in the last two seasons as the only point dropped by Remo Stars was a draw on the road.

Sunshine Stars would seek to continue what they started with Remo Stars at the Super Six where both sides share spoils.

While Remo Stars will be aiming for maximum points to keep their place at the top, Sunshine Stars coach Edith Agoye is under pressure to deliver having been handed a three-game ultimatum

Having done well in two of the three games, another positive result against Remo Stars will loosen the gag on the gaffer’s neck.

Aside from Doma United who had forced Remo Stars to drop points at home, no other team had to come to Ikenne without being sent packing with loads of goals.

Will Sunshine outshine Remo Stars in the battle of Stars in Ikenne?

Doma to regain momentum in Gombe
Doma United will hope to continue from where they stopped last year as they welcome Katsina United to the Pantami Stadium.

One of the revelations of the NPFL last year was the Savannah Tigers who moved to the top-flight league and maintained their stay and in the current season being one of the top three.

The team caught the attention of the public after running a nine-match unbeaten streak with clean sheets.

Playing 11th-placed Katsina United on Saturday might be another moment to bounce back after suffering two defeats in their last three games.

Doma have played eight games this season whereby they won seven and drew one to Bendel Insurance.

They are also the only team to have not conceded a goal at home which is a strong credential for Osayi Kingdom, the goalkeeper of that team.

Meanwhile, Katsina United have been pretty decent on the road, they have drawn three in their last eight games this season. Moreover, their last visit to the Pantami Stadium against Gombe United ended in a defeat.

Clash of Titans in Benin
Fidelis Ilechukwu failed to defeat Bendel Insurance while as a coach with Plateau United last season. But the time to face Monday Odigie for revenge is on Saturday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin when Bendel Insurance plays against Enugu Rangers.

Both Enugu Rangers and Bendel Insurance are old foes who will be meeting for the first time since 2019.

Meanwhile, both sides currently have just two points in between them. Bendel Insurance is in the seventh position with 24 points while Rangers stays in the ninth with 22 points.

However, Rangers are the joint highest goal-scoring side with Remo Stars on the road with seven goals and they have only picked three points in all their eight away games.

Despite harvesting goals on the road, Rangers might be faced with the herculean task of breaking the shell of Bendel Insurance who has only conceded two goals.

Niger Tornadoes before the game against Sporting Lagos
Niger Tornadoes
Bottom table clash in Kaduna
Niger Tornadoes and Heartland, both bottom-settlers, will be playing each other in Kaduna for the first time after the Ikon Allah sent the Naze Millionaires packing to the NNL in 2022.

Tornadoes will be hosting Heartland of Owerri on Sunday for the first time since 2022 when they last met. It ended in a 2-1 win for the Ikon Allah boys.

That result confirmed Heartland’s relegation that season as Tornadoes was their last game of the season before being sent to the NNL.

Now, with the reshuffling in the Naze Millionaires’ management team which saw Christian Obi returning to the helm of affairs after Governor Hope Uzodinma removed Kennedy Boboye, there is certainly going to be a lot of reworking in the team.

But the 2022 adventure seems different now as both teams are relegation battlers in the league at the moment.

Tornadoes have won only five games in their last eight home matches while Heartland has only accrued three points on the road.

The crux of the game will be who jumps off the relegation state seeing that both teams have equal points.

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