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NPFL: Enyimba and Rangers set South-east Nigeria on fire in Oriental derby

NPFL: Enyimba and Rangers set South-east Nigeria on fire in Oriental derby

Matchday 2 of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) will see two of the biggest names in Nigeria go for each other’s jugular as Rangers International welcome Enyimba International to the Nnamdi Azikwe stadium in Enugu in an Oriental derby.

Rangers, hunting for a first league title since 2016 will hope to make it two wins in a row after claiming an impressive 2-1 away win at Katsina United last weekend while the Aba Millionaires, still smarting from the humiliation of being kicked out of the CAF Confederations Cup on technical ground will also hope to quickly get into their strides as they aim to reclaim the league title.

Still unbeaten under new manager, Finidi George, Enyimba won their opening league fixture 2-1 against Abia Warriors last weekend and will seek to make it two victories on the bounce when they face Rangers at the Soccer Cathedral.

Finidi George, Enyimba’s coach

Both teams who are among the early contenders for the title will be in a hurry to lay down an early sason’s marker and no game is bigger than this brawl on Boxing Day.

In Ibadan, traditional powerhouse 3SC will be playing their first top-flight league game in five years at the refurbished Lekan Salami Stadium when they host league champions Akwa United in a game that will hold nostalgic feelings for the Oluyole Warlords who just returned to the NPFL since their relegation in 2016.

3SC claimed a 0-0 draw on the road last weekend at fellow newcomers Gombe United and will square up against the Promise Keepers from Uyo who began their title defence with a 3-0 annihilation of former champions Kano Pillars.

Still in the Southwest, Remo Stars will play their first official game at their newly-built home ground in Ikenne when they host Heartland of Owerri with the Remo fans fully expecting another victory following their team’s impressive 2-0 win away at MFM in Lagos on Matchday 1. They come up against Heartland which was forced to an exciting 3-3 draw at home by Nasarawa United. This game promises to be interesting as both sides have shown that they are not shy in front of goal.

Another standout game will be in Kano, where passionate fans of Pillars will expect a response from their side when they come up against Lobi Stars. With their humiliation in Uyo stinging like scorpion bites, Pillars will hope to vent their anger on Lobi who were only able to force a 1-1 draw at home against visiting Rivers United. Now, they will seek their first win of the season on a ground even the stout-hearted fear to tread.

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Rivers United return home to host Katsina United after getting League Management Company (LMC) approval to resume activities at their Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium which had been under renovation and they will be hoping to mark a return to their favourite home ground with a win over their northern visitors.

Kwara United are on the road in Jos where they will test if their 3-0 win last week at home over Dakkada was a fluke when they face home side Plateau United who are still smarting from a narrow 1-0 loss at Niger Tornadoes. Knowing coach Fidelis Ilechukwu, the Miners of Jos will severely test the resilience of Kwara and a win for the home side looks a likely proposition.

It is early days yet and six clubs currently occupy joint-first in the league table with three points each but the complexion of the leadership will change after Sunday’s games as the contenders begin to be separated from the mere pretenders.

Match Day 2 Fixtures

  • Rangers Int vs Enyimba Int
  • Plateau United vs Kwara United
  • 3SC vs Akwa United
  • Rivers United vs Katsina United
  • Wikki Tourists vs Niger Tornadoes
  • Abia Warriors vs Sunshine Stars
  • Remo Stars vs Heartland
  • Dakkada vs MFM
  • Nasarawa Utd vs Gombe United
  • Kano Pillars vs Lobi Stars

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