Kano Pillars poised to topple NPFL leaders
The involvement of Akwa United and Plateau United in the CAF club competitions this weekend affords Kano Pillars an opportunity to end matchday eight as league leaders, provided they secure an away win in Akure.
Pillars could capitalise on the unavailability of the top two teams by climbing two spots on the log in their bid to gain leadership position on the league table, provided they win away at Sunshine Stars.
It does appear to be a tough task for Sai Masu Gida, who have failed to earn victory on the road this season, although their forwards haven't been goal-shy in those games, scoring three in three.
Dayo Ojo, fresh from his involvement at the African Nations Championship, should be available for Sunshine Stars, a quality addition required to preserve their unbeaten home record this season.
Coach Imama Amapakabo makes a return to Enugu Rangers with El-Kanemi Warriors in a testing game which is the tactician's first on the bench for the Maiduguri-based team following his month-long international engagement with Nigeria.
Judging by the acrimonious way in which both coach and club parted ways last year, we shouldn't rule out a hostile reception for Amapakabo despite his title-winning feat two seasons ago.
The visitors are just a spot above the dropzone, and have worryingly seen their goals dry up following an inability to score in four successive games. Failure to halt their poor run of form could well guarantee El-Kanemi a spot at the bottom of the table.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Heartland go head-to-head in the Oriental Derby in Nnewi on Sunday. This fixture brings back memories of violent scenes the last time the pair clashed on this ground; and officials will be desperate to avoid a repeat.
Heartland are on an impressive four-game unbeaten run -- including successive wins - following a difficult start to the campaign, and their sharp improvement has seen them climb as high as seventh on the table.
By contrast, FC Ifeanyi Ubah are languishing in the dropzone, occupying the last relegation spot on the back of just one win in their last five matches.
Despite winning all previous home fixtures against Heartland, FC Ifeanyi Ubah are in patchy form and should know history counts for very little if they are to earn the bragging rights in this derby.
Lobi Stars face a gruelling task away at Wikki Tourists in a bid to maintain their top-four position on the table. The Makurdi-based team have already enjoyed success on the road this season, winning at Enugu Rangers.
They should be strengthened by the return of prolific striker Anthony Okpotu as they aim to become only the first team to pick a point and score a goal against Wikki at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium this season.
Kwara United could climb above rock bottom with a home win when they welcome Katsina United to Ilorin, provided results elsewhere favour the Harmony Boys.