Completesportsnigeria.com's Nigeria Professional Football League expert ADEBOYE AMOSU analyses the chances of the title contenders as the season reaches an exciting climax…
Led by the highly intelligent tactician, Abdu Maikaba, Wikki Tourists are looking to win their first Nigeria Professional Football League title. They will however have to do it the hard way if they want to secure the crown.
The Bauchi-based side still have to navigate through three tricky away fixtures against FC IfeanyiUbah, Nasarawa United and Shooting Stars.
FC IfeanyiUbah have lost only once in their last eight games in the NPFL, while Nasarawa United are yet to drop points at their makeshift home ground, the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi since the opening day defeat against MFM FC. 3SC are fighting to escape the drop and coming up against them at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan, a game before the end of the campaign will be tough.
Maikaba's men alongside title rivals, Enugu Rangers, boast the best away record in the league this season.
They have recorded two wins, five draws and seven defeats on their travels. Though they have scored a paltry seven goals, they have however conceded the fewest goals, 16.
Wikki also have two tough home games on the cards. The first is against title rivals, Rivers United, and the second is against Sunshine Stars who are in the hunt for a CAF Confederation Cup ticket.
RIVERS UNITED FC IFEANYIUBAH
SUNSHINE STARS NASARAWA UNITED
The Flying Antelopes led by the suave Imama Amapakabo are desperate to end their 32-year title drought. They have no doubt performed excellently well to stay in title race after years of inconsistent showings.
Like their title rivals, the Coal City side must roll up their sleeves if they want to succeed Oriental neighbours, Enyimba Football Club of Aba as the NPFL Kings.
Unbeaten at home this season, having won 11 and drawn three of their fixtures at the 'Cathedral' Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, Enugu, the oriental side can bank on that record to end their title drought.
But that is on paper, as the last three opponents they will be facing at home, Rivers United, Sunshine Stars and El-Kanemi Warriors, can be tough nuts to crack.
The fact that Rivers United are also chasing the title and Sunshine Stars fighting for a continental ticket makes their fixtures against both sides a tricky one. El-Kanemi Warriors who they will be facing in their last fixture for the season are also not safe from relegation and should they need the game to stay up, will make life difficult for them.
On the away front, Amapakabo's men also have tough opponents to contend with. This weekend they will up against a rejuvenated Nasarawa United side who are unbeaten at home since their matchday one defeat at the hands of MFM FC.
Next is a trip to Ibadan where they will face traditional rivals, Shooting Stars. They will end their travels with a visit to Lagos where they are expected to have an easy ride against already relegated Ikorodu United.
RIVERS UNITED NASARAWA UNITED
SUNSHINE STARS SHOOTING STARS
EL-KANEMI WARRIORS IKORODU UNITED
Rivers United can count on the expertise and experience of their head coach, Stanley Eguma, in what has gradually turned into an interesting title race.
The Pride of Rivers have emerged as surprise title contenders after barely escaping the drop last season.
Of the four teams who are in the running to win the title, they have on paper what look like the easiest fixtures. They also boast the best home record having recorded only one draw in 15 outings at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt with the rest ending in wins.
Their last three home fixtures are against relegation battlers, Plateau United, Warri Wolves and Abia Warriors.
The result of their away clash against title rivals Enugu Rangers will also be decisive in how well they fare at the end of the season.
PLATEAU UNITED RANGERS
WARRI WOLVES AKWA UNITED
The side bankrolled by businessman Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah started the campaign on a high last season but faded away along the line.
This time around, they have worked their way to the top slowly and only four points seperate them from leaders, Wikki Tourists.
With only one defeat from their last eight games, the Anambra Warriors look good to challenge for the title.
It will however not be an easy task with some tough fixtures still ahead of them. They will host Wikki at home this weekend in what promises to be a titanic clash. Akwa United and defending champions, Enyimba will also still visit the IfeanyiUbah International Stadium.
Things are not different for them on the road as they have some difficult games coming up.
Abia Warriors and MFM FC, two of the teams they will face are fighting to avoid the drop
and games against them will be tough. Lobi Stars the other side they will play on their travel have not lost a game at home in over two seasons and will be keen to protect that record even though they have nothing again to fight for.
WIKKI TOURISTS ABIA WARRIORS
AKWA UNITED LOBI STARS
ENYIMBA. MFM FC