December, 5 2023.
.. Games Involving Rivers Utd. & Enyimba FC Paused
It does not come bigger than this, and there's little or no wonder that the entire Coaching Crew and management of Rangers Int'l FC of Enugu, arrived in Jos on Tuesday for Wednesday's Day-12 duel against Plateau United, at the New Jos Stadium, in Zaria Road, tight lipped.
Rangers Int'l FC did not kick a ball last weekend, as their opponents in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), Rivers United, were on CAF Confederation Cup duties, away in Kumasi, to Dreams FC of Ghana.
Having dropped as many as five (5) out of six (6) points, in consecutive matches; during which the Flying Antelopes failed to score in both matches; Rangers are now down to 9th position in the NPFL table, with 15 points; while Plateau United, who like Rangers has a match in hand are 10th, with 13 points.
Wednesday's face-off in Jos, pits Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu against the side, he left to join the seven-time NPFL champions; and having scored in every other game, until the last two, - home to Katsina United (0-0) and away to Abia Warriors (0-1 loss); Ilechukwu sued for calm and maximum concentration, as he targets all three (3) points on offer in what club sources termed a "winnable tie".
For the records, this is Ilechukwu's first visit to Jos since he jumped the ship of Plateau United, and joined Enugu Rangers.
Fresh from beating Enyimba Int'l FC in Aba; and before then Bayelsa United in Yenagoa;Remo Stars of Ikenne are primed to make Niger Tornadoes of Minna the third team, they will be defeating on the road, this season.
The midweek encounter between the league leaders, who parades joint top scorer Sikiru Alimi, holds at the ABS in Kaduna, and it affords the Ikon Allah Boys an opportunity to relaunch their season, as victory could see them, climb off the drop zone.
Victory in Kaduna for the Sky Blues from Ikenne-Remo, which already has two wins on their travels, will make it three, and almost 50% of the much sought after away wins, that has become a notable yardstick with which fans measure the growth or otherwise of the nation's football leagues.
Lobi Stars of Makurdi, are back to their adopted home in Lafia for the tie against a misfiring Gombe United FC. As one of the few sides with a 100% win record at home, in the 2023/24 season; Lobi is expected to add the Jewel of the Savannah to its list of victims; being that they were in the receiving end of a 5-2 thrashing by visiting Kano Pillars, at the weekend.
Somehow, Gombe United have been very poor travellers too, and alongside Niger Tornadoes, they are the only two sides yet to record an away point, this season; having each played and lost all of their five away fixtures.
Another side that has been invincible at home this term, is Abia Warriors who are to host Sporting FC of Lagos in Umuahia, and on a pitch that has been roundly criticized by visiting teams, as "not good enough for even academy football".
With Enyimba Int'l not in action, and Lobi Stars scheduled to play at home in Lafia, Doma United FC are expected to add to the six road wins, so far recorded this season; when slugging it out with Kwara United of Ilorin, at the Kwara State Sports Complex.
All eyes and ears will be beamed towards the Sani Abacha Stadium, in Kofarmata, as Kano Pillars play host to struggling Akwa United, and their under-fire Head Coach, Fatai Osho.
Only on Sunday, 17-year-old Yusuf Abdullahi aka Dan Tsamage , became the first player to score a quintuple (five goals) in a single match; at a rather hostile Pantami Stadium; and it will be interesting to see the youngster, already tipped by experts as the next big thing coming out from the NPFL, sustain his superb form.
Joint top scorer, Robert Mizo (9 goals), netted a brace in a space of three minutes against Abia Warriors, to rescue a point for Bayelsa United in Yenagoa, at the weekend; but the Prosperity Boys will have to sit-out this mid-week game against Rivers United, as the 2021/22 NPFL champions prepare for their Day-3 clash, against Club Africane of Tunisia in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Also postponed by the management of the NPFL is clash between Enyimba Int'l FC and Katsina United, which was due to hold in Aba; www.ckdmedia.ng reports.
Having earned a hard fought draw in Ibadan against 3SC, Heartland will continue their search for an elusive first win of the season, when hosting Bendel Insurance of Benin; who should be full of confidence, after scoring deep into added time to edge Lobi Stars 1-0 on Day-11.
And the fourth South-West derby of the campaign, will see Sunshine Stars host 3SC of Ibadan, at the Akure Township Stadium.
Remarkably, after playing eleven (11) matches apiece, the Oluyole Warriors are 5th in the table, with 18 points, 5 clear of Sunshine Starts, who are in 13th spot, and in dire need of improvement.
Current Head Coach of Shooting Stars, Gbenga Ogunbote aka de Oracle, has had two different stints with the Akure Gunners; whose Head Coach, Edith Agoye joined them after falling out with the management of 3SC, two summers ago.