Lobi Stars will be desperate to claim maximum points against Akwa United at the ongoing Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) Championship Playoffs at the Agege Stadium, Lagos on Monday, if they do not want to kiss continental football goodbye next season.
The Pride of Benue represented Nigeria in the Caf Champions League this year, but they have found the journey difficult during the season-ending tournament after their winning start against FC Ifeanyi Ubah.
They fell like a pack of badly arranged cards against Enugu Rangers and Enyimba and their chances of retaining the league title now hang in the balance, ahead of their must-win clash with Akwa United, who are equally not comfortable at the moment.
Lobi Stars lost the game against the Flying Antelopes after conceding two early goals, while a loss of concentration cost them dearly against the People’s Elephant.
With three points from three matches, Lobi Stars will need more than securing the full points in their final two games with Akwa United and Kano Pillars.
They also need other results go in their favour to retain the title they won last season. Evans Ogenyi's men are presently fifth in the NPFL Playoffs table.
Akwa United were close to their first loss of the Championship Playoffs against Enugu Rangers on Saturday, but their late comeback was rewarded with a share of the spoils.
They are presently third on the table with five points from three games and will need a positive outcome against the Pride of Benue to revive their title hopes.
In what will be the first game of the day at the Agege Stadium, Enugu Rangers will square up with Kano Pillars.
The Flying Antelopes will be cursing their luck in the last game against Akwa United, where they let slip a two-goal lead to share the points in a game they had under control, even with a man down.
Kano Pillars are equally not comfortable on the playoffs table even though they are on top with seven points from three games. They will need to win their last two games to secure their fifth NPFL title, and the first since the 2014-15 season.
Enyimba and FC Ifeanyi Ubah will lock horns in another Oriental derby. The People’s Elephant thrashed Lobi Stars 3-1 in their last fixture to quickly bounce back to life after their shock 2-0 loss to Kano Pillars.
They cannot afford to joke with the tie with the Anambra Warriors, who despite losing all the three games they have played in Lagos, could play the spoilers' role in a tie they are only playing for pride, having been almost schemed out of the race for a continental slot.
Enyimba will benefit from a slip by Kano Pillars to move to the first spot on the NPFL playoffs table if they are able to secure the maximum points against FC Ifeanyi Ubah, and Sai Masu Gida fail to beat Enugu Rangers.