NPFL: Rangers take title aspirations to Ibadan, Enyimba seek redemption against Bayelsa

The Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) has reached its crescendo with just three matchdays left and nine points to deliver joy or sorrow.

Gombe United and Heartland are effectively down and out, but there will be a titanic battle for the remaining two teams to join them in the lower league next season.

At the top, it seems to be advantage Rangers as they have opened a five-point gap over Enyimba after the NPFL decided to give three points and three goals to the Enugu side due to an incident towards the end of their clash last weekend.

Home Time Away
Akwa United 16:00 Katsina United
Bendel Insurance 16:00 Rivers United
Enyimba 16:00 Bayelsa United
Gombe United 15:30 Abia Warriors
Kwara United 16:00 Kano Pillars
Niger Tornadoes 16:00 Lobi Stars
Remo Stars 16:00 Heartland
Sporting Lagos 16:00 Plateau United
Shooting Stars 16:00 Rangers Int'l
Doma United Postponed Sunshine Stars
NPFL
Photo by Shooting Stars media

NPFL Matchday 36 Preview

Here are the fixtures for Matchday 36 this midweek

Akwa United, in 15th place, will be at home in Uyo to Katsina United, seeking to return to winning ways after their 2-0 loss in Akure against Sunshine Stars.

A win will take them to 46 points and another step towards safety, while Katsina have nothing to play for as they sit comfortably in 7th place.

In Benin, it will be Insurance against Rivers United, with the Benin side having the meanest defense in the NPFL. Rivers, who will not play on the continent next season, will hope to get something there to finish in a respectable position.

They beat Shooting Stars 1-0 in Port Harcourt last weekend but will have a mountain to climb against an Insurance side that does not leak goals easily.

Enyimba seek points against relegation-threatened Bayelsa

Enyimba will seek to put the debacle in Enugu against Rangers behind them, where they were fined by the NPFL for various offences.

The stalemate in Enugu means no points for them from that road trip, and now they have to contend with Bayelsa United, who are fighting to remain in the NPFL.

The Elephants still nurse hopes of catching up with Rangers but are also wary of the threat posed by Bayelsa United, who are in 17th place.

Gombe United’s clash with Abia Warriors is a very strange one for a few reasons. Abia Warriors risk being dragged into the relegation dogfight.

If they fail to win in Gombe and Akwa, Bayelsa, and Sporting get something from their games, it means they will hover within the drop zone.

20240311_084238
Photo by Enyimba Media

There is also the added task of defeating Gombe United, who want to play for pride as they have been effectively relegated from the top flight.

Three points separate Kwara United and Kano Pillars on the table as 10th goes up against 13th.

Kwara suffered a 2-0 defeat in their last game against Plateau United while Kano Pillars drew with Niger Tornadoes in Kano.

It will be a battle to see who finishes on top of the other.

Rangers in Ibadan to consolidate top spot

League leaders Rangers head to Ibadan to face Shooting Stars, who will be hoping to get back to winning ways after losing to Rivers in Port Harcourt in a game they would have thought they should have come out with something.

Rangers, however, will hope to put behind the ugly incident at the weekend against Enyimba and turn focus to matters on the pitch as they seek their first title win since 2016.

With five points separating them from second-placed Enyimba, they know getting something from Ibadan will take them one step closer to their goal.

Sporting Lagos can improve their league standings and ease their relegation fears when they host Plateau, who have been poor on the road this second round.

Can Sporting Lagos defeat Plateau United?

The ‘Tech Boys’ battled to a 2-2 draw with Bayelsa in Yenagoa but will have to be at their best against a Plateau United side brimming with confidence after defeating Kwara United 2-0 in their last game.

Niger Tornadoes have a date with Lobi Stars in Kaduna, seeking to finish the league in a respectable position.

Akwa-united
Photo by Akwa United Media

Sitting in 12th place, they are safe from relegation but will seek more. Lobi Stars, who were in the title race a few weeks ago, have fallen off from the chasing pack but will hope the trip to Kaduna will bring good tidings and improve their fifth-place position.

Remo Stars, who are third on the log, welcome embattled Heartland to Ikenne, seeking to pour more woes on the Owerri side.

Heartland need a miracle of gargantuan proportions to escape the drop and will face a Remo side who also have title aspirations as five points separate them from Rangers at the top of the log.

Doma United’s game with Sunshine Stars has been moved to 19 June after the Gombe side were involved in an accident on their way back from the away game at Heartland.

NPFL: Rangers take title aspirations to Ibadan, Enyimba seek redemption against Bayelsa
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a veteran Nigerian sports journalist with over 20 years of experience covering the beautiful game across Africa. Andrew served as a Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 Men's National Team for three years, offering a unique perspective on the future stars of Nigerian football.

Beyond reporting, Andrew is a pioneer in sports graphics creation within Nigeria. His expertise extends to sports kit design, making him a true multi-faceted talent in the African sports landscape.

Andrew's experience is vast, with collaborations encompassing prestigious names like Kickoff, SuperSport, the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), and the NPFL (Nigeria Professional Football League)