Second-placed Lobi Stars will invite Nasarawa United to a thrilling encounter at the Aper Aku Stadium this weekend as the Nigerian Professional Football League continues in earnest. This outing could see the visitors pick up three points and push themselves out of the relegation zone, although two teams above them have two games in hand each.
Lobi Stars, on the other hand, will be looking to drive Plateau United out of first place with a win this weekend. The Stars currently have a game in hand, with only 15 matches played, while Plateau has already played 16. However, both teams hold 28 points, and this matchday could see power change hands at the top of the table.
Trouble could be waiting on the horizon for the Stars who have seen a dip in their form in recent weeks. Their last two games saw them lose to fifth-placed Awka Starlets and third-placed Rivers United. This game, against a struggling Nasarawa, could see them grow their confidence and form with a strong win at home. Another draw or loss could keep Lobi Stars from consolidating their strong position near the top, as Rivers sits right behind them with only one less point.
Nasarawa, on the other hand, have had a confusing run of form in recent weeks. Before losing their last game to Warri Wolves at home, they put out a strong performance away at Akwa Starlets and scored three goals without conceding any. Before that, they picked up a win, loss, and draw in unentertaining fashion.
However, before their win at home against Heartland late December, they were yet to register a single win this season. Since then, they have picked up three wins. Perhaps, they will do the unexpected and pick up all three points against Lobi Stars.
Lobi Stars vs Nasarawa United: Form guide
Lobi has dropped five points against Dakkada FC and Rivers United recently, after a three-match winning streak earlier on. Nasarawa United have picked up seven points in their last five games and will look to cause an upset against Lobi.
Lobi Stars form guide: DLWWW
Nasarawa form guide: LWLWD
Lobi Stars vs Nasarawa United head-to-head
Lobi and Nasarawa have met eight times since 2014. Lobi have won three times while Nasarawa have emerged victorious on four occassions, and there has been just a single draw.
Lobi Stars wins: 3
Nasarawa United wins: 4
Lobi Stars vs Nasarawa United team news and predicted starting XI
Lobi Stars manager Barnabas Imenger will likely choose a team similar to the squad that played against Awka United in their last game of 2019.
Moses Ocheje will reprise his role as the goalkeeper, with Moses Bunde, Ebube Duru, Ernest Governor, and Adeleue Aniyikaye holding the four-man defensive lineup. Raphael Ayagwa, Abdulkareem Mumini, and Samad Kadiri are the most likely players for the three-man midfield. In attack, Nzube Anaezemba, Tamara Ezekiel, and Chinedu Udeagha will lead the line.
Musa Wambai will direct his squad in their newer high attacking formation that sees the full-backs maraud consistently down each wing. Mohamed Galadima will remain in goal, while Emmanuel Makama and Abubakar Abdullahi will reprise their roles as centre-backs. On the wings, Ikechukwu Nwani and Abdullahi Bello will cause problems for Lobi Stars. In midfield, Ismail Mayak, Haggai Katoh, and Jide Williams will hold down the fort, while the attack will be led by Isah Ndala, Ibrahim Sunusi, and Shammasu Mohammed.
Lobi Stars Predicted XI: Moses Ocheje, Moses Bunde, Ebube Duru, Ernest Governor, Adeleue Aniyikaye, Raphael Ayagwa, Abdulkareem Mumini, Samad Kadiri, Nzube Anaezemba, Tamara Ezekiel, Chinedu Udeagha
Nasarawa United Predicted XI: Mohammed Galadima, Emmanuel Makama, Abubakar Abdullahi, Ismaila Mayaki, Haggai Katoh, Jide Williams, Ikechukwu Nwani, Isah Ndala, Ibrahim Sunusi, Shammasu Mohammed, Abdullahi Bello
Lobi Stars vs Nasarawa United prediction
Lobi Stars have to win this game if they are to maintain their position at the echelons of the league table, and Nasarawa are also under the same pressure to get out of the relegation zone. While this game will end up as a 'survival of the fittest', Lobi Stars look more likely to come out on top. Nasarawa may have only just found form, but they haven't found rhythm yet, and that could be detrimental for them in this game. Asides this, Lobi are playing at home, and stand a much higher chance of driving a result through in front of the home fans.
Prediction: Lobi Stars 2-1 Nasarawa United