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Sports News of Sunday, 26 December 2021

Source: www.premiumtimesng.com

NPFL Preview: Rangers, Enyimba set for clash of titans

The photo used to illustrate the story The photo used to illustrate the story

The Nigeria Professional Football League is set for its matchday two fixtures this weekend with the Oriental Derby between Rangers International and Enyimba arguably the pick of the bunch.

With renovation work still ongoing at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu, Rangers will host the People’s Elephant at their adopted home ground in Nnewi.

Indeed, every encounter involving these two teams either in Enugu, Aba, or any other venue, has always been an interesting clash.

Last season, the Flying Antelopes defeated the Peoples Elephant 2-0 in a delayed matchday 19 fixture while in the reverse fixture in Aba, it ended 2-1 in favour of the host.

With Sunday’s game taking place in a somewhat neutral venue, it could be an open game for Finidi George’s youthful Enyimba side.

Going into Sunday’s tie, both Rangers and Enyimba had a flying start to the season with identical 2-1 victories over Katsina United and Abia Warriors respectively.

It is expected that Sunday’s derby clash will be explosive and both camps have been talking tough.

Positive vibesTope Olusesi, Rangers captain, while speaking with the Rangers Media team expressed confidence in his team registering another win though he admitted Enyimba will be a tough customer.

Olusesi said: “For me and the team, the game is a very important game. Coming back from Katsina with three points, we all appreciate the fact that we need the three points at stake against Enyimba to consolidate our position and fully celebrate the away win in Katsina.”

“We know it is an oriental derby which is always a difficult fixture for both sides but we are determined and have this confidence in ourselves and the coaching crew that we are going to get the maximum points,” Olusesi added.

On his part Coach Abdul Maikaba is hoping to get a good result against his former employers

“With the response of my players to the drills we have for them, I am confident of coming out of the match with our heads held high. There is nothing personal about the match as we are going into the game as a team with a collective target which is to pick the three points at stake.”

Other fixturesApart from the Oriental Derby, there are a couple of other interesting fixtures in the NPFL this weekend.

The defending champions, Akwa United, will face newly-promoted Shooting Stars at the Lekan Salami stadium.

Though the Oluyole Warriors may be dubbed the underdogs in this fixture, the youthful team being tutored by Edith Agoye is a beauty to behold.

The Ibadan-based team will see fans coming around to cheer the club in an NPFL game for the first time in four years.

The last time 3SC played in the NPFL was in 2017 and ever since they have struggled to gain promotion before achieving the target in 2021.

Elsewhere, Ibrahim Musa’s Kano Pillars will seek redemption against Lobi Stars of Makurdi.

After last weekend’s humiliation in Uyo, Pillars will need to block all loopholes to earn the maximum points against Lobi Stars who also dropped points in their opening game of the season.

Full Fixtures

Shooting Stars vs Akwa United

Kano Pillars vs Lobi Stars

Rivers United vs Katsina United

Rangers Int’l FC vs Enyimba Int’l

Abia Warriors vs Sunshine Stars

Wikki Tourists vs Niger Tornadoes

Plateau United vs Kwara United

Dakkada FC vs MFM

Remo Stars vs Heartland FC

Nasarawa United vs Gombe United