By Adeboye Amosu:
Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Enugu Rangers will seek to get their title defence on a winning note when they host oriental rivals, Abia Warriors in their match-day one fixture at The Cathedral – Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium Enugu on Sunday, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.
The People's Elephants have struggled to replicate previous campaign's form during the pre-season. They lost the Super-Four title and Charity Cup to Rivers United and FC IfeanyiUbah respectively.
The Flying Antelopes will be buoyed by the fact they have won three of their last six fixtures against Abia Warriors, with the other three ending in a stalemate.
On the opening day of the season today (Saturday), four-time champions, Kano Pillars host FC IfeanyiUbah at the Sani Abacha Stadium.
The home side who had a disappointing outing last term have undergone a massive squad overall bringing in 18 new players six of which are from Enyimba.
Pillars also have a new coach, Kadiri Ikhana at the saddle.
FC IfeanyiUbah who had a mixed fortunes in the pre-season which resulted in the resignation of Japanese American coach Kenichi Yatsuhashi and the recall of former head coach, Rafeal Everton head into the game in buoyant mood following their victory against Enugu Rangers in the NFF Charity Cup on Wednesday in Abuja.
Seven- time champions, Enyimba and Sunshine Stars will do battle at the UJ Esuene Stadium Calabar on Sunday in another heavyweight clash of match-day one.
Both teams have new coaches in charge (Gbenga Ogunbote, Enyimba and Kayode Olujohungbe, Sunshine Stars) and have also lost several of their key players to other clubs.
The game will also see Enyimba coach, Gbenga Ogunbote face his former team.
In Port Harcourt, title favourites Rivers United will be up against El-Kanemi Warriors at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.
The Super- Four champions look good to pick maximum points in the encounter and anything short of that will be regarded as a disappointing result.
The Lekan Salami Stadium Ibadan will host the encounter between Shooting Stars and Lobi Stars. The visitors defeated 3SC 1-0 the last time both teams met at the same venue in February 2016.
In an all northern affair, Wikki Tourists and Nasarawa United will clash at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi.
In Lagos, MFM FC will tackle Niger Tornadoes at the Agege Stadium.
NPFL new boys; Katsina United and Gombe United will seek a perfect start to life on their return to the top flight when they face each other at the 37,000 seater Muhammadu Dikko Stadium, Katsina.
Katsina United beat the visitors 1-0 the last time both teams met in the Nigeria National League Super-Four competition.
In the last two fixtures of the opening day, debutants Remo Stars will take on Plateau United, while another newcomer, ABS will entertain Akwa United in Ilorin.
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MATCH-DAY ONE FIXTURES
Saturday, January 14
Kano Pillars Vs FC IfeanyiUbah
Sunday, January 15
Enugu Rangers Vs Abia Warriors
Rivers United Vs El-Kanemi
Enyimba Vs Sunshine Stars
Wikki Tourists Vs Nasarawa United
ABS Vs Akwa United
Katsina United Vs Gombe United
Remo Stars Vs Plateau United
Shooting Stars Vs Lobi Stars
MFM FC Vs Niger Tornadoes