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Preview : MatchDay4 Island Conference

If Citizens ever needed a miracle, if ever they needed the divine intervention from the Man upstairs, it’s on Matchday 4. Dannaz FC are on a mission to obliterate everything in their way with their eyes firmly on the prize; the title in December. Their 4 consecutive wins to start the season is a new SociaLiga record and it not only feels like they could go the entire Regular Season unbeaten, it’s starting to look like they could do it without dropping a point.

Dannaz FC v Citizens FC

If Citizens ever needed a miracle, if ever they needed the divine intervention from the Man upstairs, it’s on Matchday 4. After a very enjoyable debut in 2016 when they made it to the finals of the Foundation Cup & finished 2nd in their Conference, the Citizens are on the verge of not making the playoffs for the second season in a row despite the influx of talents and the managerial change at the start of the season. Slowly, what was once a season filled with promise has morphed into a nightmare. Currently on just a point after 4 games, Citizens go into Matchday 4 knowing only a win in their last 2 games (accompanied by a collapse from either Saints or Alphas) can save their season. The challenge, however, is those 2 games are against the best team in the conference, the reigning two time champions, Saints and the attacking juggernauts, Dannaz.

Dannaz FC are on a mission to obliterate everything in their way with their eyes firmly on the prize; the title in December. Their 4 consecutive wins to start the season is a new SociaLiga record and it not only feels like they could go the entire Regular Season unbeaten, it’s starting to look like they could do it without dropping a point. They’re fresh off back to back 2-1 wins over Saints; games where they were slightly outplayed but still found ways to win. Says a lot when you aren’t exactly at your best but still find a way to win.

Things couldn’t be better at Dannaz. They’ve secured a playoff spot with 2 games to spare and they’ve all but locked down the #1 seed which will make them the only team to finish ahead of Saints in the Regular Season since the inception of The SociaLiga. Their top striker, Joshua Obakimi who has been (jointly) named Player of the Month in all 3 voting months this season equaled Emmanuel Eze’s record of 5 goals in the opening 3 games while team manager, Danny Nazzal has bagged the Manager of the Month award in all 3 voting months just as his star player. The great position they find themselves in gives them the luxury of experimenting a little bit ahead of the playoffs. Although, you can still bet they’d want a win regardless.

Matchday 4’s meeting with Citizens is a reverse fixture of Matchday 2’s game in which 3 un-replied first half goals were enough to give them a 3-0 win. Dannaz needed just 9 mins to breakdown Citizens’ not-so-scary defense & it was pretty much smooth sailing afterwards. Now, however, with their season on the line, Citizens will be a hungrier and desperate side. After snapping their 8 game losing streak with a draw against Alphas the last time out, they’d be taking that as a sign for better things to come and will no doubt be aiming for 3 points against Dannaz. Stranger things have happened in the 2 and half years since the birth of The SociaLiga so don’t bet against it.

Alphas FC v Saints FC

There’s a little unrest in the Saints camp. The source of the unrest? An unfamiliar feeling. What unfamiliar feeling? The fact that they’re no longer the best team in the league, for now at least. After being unarguably the best team among their peers since the club’s inception in 2014, they’re now facing the reality that they may just be getting past their first glory era. This hasn’t exactly gone down well with them. They’ve racked up 6 yellow cards, 3 player suspensions and a record N50,000 in club fine since the last Matchday. The Army’s pride has taken a blow and their chances of a 3-peat is now in serious jeopardy. With the chances of reaching the playoffs still very much alive, all attention would be turned to finishing the Regular Season on a high and redeeming themselves in the playoffs.

Opponents, Alphas have lost all 3 previous meetings with Saints in The SociaLiga even though they put in excellent performances in all 3 games. Their last encounter on Matchday 2 must have hurt the most. They had several chances to take the lead against Saints but a lack of composure in the final 3rd saw them squander them all. Saints, with unquestionable experience, took the lead during their first spell of dominance late in the 2nd half and held on for a slim 1-0 win.

Alphas’ lack of composure in attack has been a problem all season long right from the season opener against Dannaz. They’ve failed to score a goal since Matchday 1 and currently have just 2 goals all season. However, a win against Saints on the 11th of August would see them leapfrog the defending champions into 2nd position and you can bet they’ll be itching to land a blow to an already hurting Saints team.

Every season since the start of the league, Saints have had a breakout striker. There was Abdulhakeem in the first season and just last season, Robert Odu and Tolu Benson. This time around, Otubu Mahmoud seems to be the man carrying the attack with 3 goals in 4 games. In the absence of the suspended Aturu Olaoluwa, Hassan Azeez and Clever Orlu, there’ll be added pressure on manager Kunle Ibaru to deliver the team’s first victory since April. For Alphas, they’re on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time and they’ll need to show a lot of composure to seal the deal.

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