After a midway hiatus due to Nigeria’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations, the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) returns this weekend.

Now that that is out of the way, match centres all across Nigeria are abuzz with activity as teams compete for points to win the league diadem or avoid relegation.

At the end of the first half of the season, Lobi Stars, Remo Stars, and Enyimba held the top three spots, while Heartland, Gombe United, and Bayelsa United were firmly anchored at the bottom.

Heartland vs Kano Pillars

Matchday 20 of the 2023–2024 Nigeria Professional Football League features a clash between Heartland FC and Kano Pillars. Present: 16/02/2024 Meet at Dan Anyiam Stadium at 16:00

With only three victories in nineteen NPFL matches, Heartland FC finds itself in last place in the standings. They have suffered three losses and one win out of their previous five league matches. They may move up to 18th position with a victory versus Kano Pillars with 20 points.

After 19 matches, the Kano Pillars are in fourth place with 32 points, and a victory against Heartland FC would move them one point behind Lobi Stars, the league leaders. The Pillars are vying for a spot in the NPFL championship game.

Predicted Starting Lineup

Heartland: Ozoemena, Edem, Ekwutozia, Atule, Akanni, Nnachi, Mbaoma, Eze, Alalibo, Asuquo, Chibueze

Kano Pillars: Adewale, Kabir, Godwin, Ejeh, Rahman, Thankgod, Ovoke, Sadeeq, Ifeanyi, Shola, Paul

Our Prediction

Based on the recent home matches of Heartland FC (6 out of 8) and the recent away league matches of Kano Pillars (6 out of 9), we are predicting a game with under 2.5 goals.

Enyimba vs Shooting Stars

Matchday 20 of the 2023/2024 Nigeria Professional Football League features a clash between Shooting Stars and Enyimba. Present: 04/02/2024 When: 16:00 Location: Aba’s Enyimba International Stadium.

Enyimba will be looking to get back on track this weekend against Shooting Stars after a dismal 2-0 loss to Rivers United away from home on Tuesday. Despite the loss, the People’s Elephants are still hunting for the NPFL championship; with 19 games to play, they trail the league leader by four points.

With three losses in their previous five league matches, Shooting Stars have been terrible as of late. They will be looking to get back on track after losing their most recent NPFL encounter at home to Enyimba. Shooting Stars are expected to suffer a pair of losses at the hands of the Abia giants, the Enyimba, since they are a difficult team to manage in Aba.

Predicted Starting Lineups

Enyimba: Ozoemena, Edem, Ekwutozia, Atule, Akanni, Nnachi, Mbaoma, Eze, Alalibo, Asuquo, Chibueze

Shooting Stars: Anozie, Taiye, Mutiu, Lawal, Bamidele, Gbolagade, Joshua, Kayodde, Monday, Adekunle, Junior

Our Prediction

The odds of the Enyimba vs Shooting Stars match ending with less than 2.5 goals are high, even though Enyimba won the rematch 2-1 on the road. The People’s Elephants and the Shooting Stars have seen six of their past ten matches finish with a score of less than three goals.

Bayelsa vs Gombe United

Bayelsa United and Gombe United will square off on the twenty-eighth matchday of the 2023–2024 Nigeria Professional Football League. Present: 18/02/2024 Venue: Yenagoa Township Stadium Game Time: 16:00

Bayelsa United’s dismal season continues with only four wins out of their past nineteen NPFL games. Due to their lacklustre performance, the Bayelsa teams now have 18 points, putting them in the relegation zone.

Having won six of their past nineteen matches, Gombe United are doing somewhat better than Bayelsa Utd this season. Yet, with 18 points, they are in the relegation zone, and their past five league matches ended in a single victory.

Predicted Starting Lineups

Bayelsa United: Kelvin, Loveday, Oladimeji, Biriduba, Ayiba, Arise, Mustapha, Tekena, Mizo, Ekeson, James

Gombe United: Itodo, Frank, Sadiq, Emeka, Bashiru, Nurudden, Mustapha, Ahmed, Chijioke, Abba, Aliko

Our Prediction

Given that Bayelsa United have scored 2.89 goals per game and Gombe Utd has scored 2.26 goals per game after 19 matches, we anticipate that there will be less than 2.5 goals in this encounter between the two teams.

Enugu Rangers vs Akwa United

Matchday 20 of the 2023/2024 Nigeria Professional Football League features a game between Akwa United and Enugu Rangers. The venue is April 2, 2024, at 6:00 PM Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.

With eight victories and a tie in nine home games this season, Enugu Rangers are yet to taste defeat. This weekend, they visit struggling Akwa United, allowing them to continue their strong home run; a victory would move them up to 31 points, good for sixth place.

Akwa United could be better on the road, winning just one of their past nine league games. A loss in Enugu would put them in danger of dropping into the bottom three and ending their season prematurely; they are now only three points above the relegation zone.

Enugu Rangers: Ogundare, Odoh, Igboke, Ugochukwu, Chimezie, Onyebuchi, Nwobodo, Saviour, Nwaodu, Ogunleye, Obaje

Akwa United: Nurudeen, Ganda, Philip, Ojo, Ndon, Anioke, Bala, Seyi, Ezekiel, Chigoziem, Collins

Our Prediction

With eight of Enugu Rangers’ previous ten matches ending with under 2.5 goals and eight of Akwa United’s last ten matches ending with fewer than three goals, the match between the two teams has an 80% probability of finishing with under 2.5 goals.

Abia Warriors vs Remo Stars

On the twenty-eighth matchday of the 2023–2024 Nigeria Professional Football League, the Abia Warriors and the Remo Stars will square off. The venue is April 2, 2024, at 6:00 PM at Umuahia Township Stadium.

Abia Warriors have won eight of their past nine league matches at home, demonstrating their incredible strength there. Last time out, they were defeated 2-1 on the road by Remo Stars. This weekend, they can respond when they host Remo in the return leg in Umuahia. With 26 points after five games, the Pride of Abia are in tenth place in the league. They have won twice and lost three times in the last five matches.

Remo Stars have struggled on the road, winning only twice in nine tries. On the other hand, they are now in first place in the league after a 2-1 home victory over Abia Warriors, with a possibility to complete the league double against Pride of Abia, which would put them in first place regardless of Lobi Stars’ performance.

Predicted Starting Lineups

Abia Warriors: Nmecha, Jerry, Gbadamosi, Wotlai, Anaemena, Nwoburuoke, Ojonugwa, Ibrahim, Megwo, Ozor, Moses

Remo Stars: Tambe, Yinusa, Nduka, Joseph, Ismail, Fatokun, Adebayo, Adedayo, Ojo, Mawuena, Alimi

Our Prediction

Abia Warriors are so strong at home, having won eight of their last nine home league matches. They lost 2-1 away from home against Remo Stars last time out, but they have a chance to give a response when they host Remo in the return leg this weekend in Umuahia. The Pride of Abia won two and lost three of their last five league matches, and they currently sit in the 10th position with 26 points.

Preview: Lobi Stars vs. Plateau United

Plateau United has won their past nine league matches at home this season, demonstrating their outstanding home form. They are in sixth place with 31 points after winning 10 of their first 19 league matches this season. Three of their past five league matches were victories, while two were losses.

At the midway point of the NPFL season, Plateau United have 31 points from 19 matches, good enough for sixth place. Itodo’s long throw-ins are distinctive and essential to the team’s success.

They host league leaders Lobi Stars in their next home game at Jos’s New Jos Stadium, where Itodo is sure to set up more stunning moments with his deadly throw-ins.

Itodo said that a grassroots coach who saw his potential and pushed him to practice regularly was the one who gave him his long throw-in technique when asked where it came from.

“For the long throw, there is no secret to it; it is just a gift that a coach of mine discovered in me and worked so hard on to make me who I am today; it is a gift from God, and I am glad for it.”

He plays the game daily, perfecting his skills in training, friendly matches, and local games in his neighbourhood, and he freely admits that talent comes easily to him.

However, Itodo kept specific details about the technique a secret, stating, “There are techniques in it that I cannot reveal. I’ll keep that to myself.”

Predicted Starting Lineups

Plateau United: Adeniyi, Ogberahwe, Umar, Itodo, Adams, Doyeni, Nwaeze, Pam Jr., Eru, Daniel, Ebah

Lobi Stars: Abdullahi, Mohammed, Akile, Chinedu, Tsehuan, Orji, Francis, Liman, Adebayo, Alao, Tiza

Our Prediction

We predict that Plateau United will win 1-0 at home, continuing their winning streak from earlier this season in the NPFL. Despite Lobi Stars’s position atop the standings, home clubs in this division have a 90% winning percentage.