The 2018 Bet9ja SociaLiga returns on SociaLiga Match Day 3 on the 26th of May. Ahead of its return, we take a look at the matches in the Mainland Conference.
Raineri Ghost v Bravos Knights
In a rematch of last year’s Mainland Conference finals, both teams come into this game with a 100% start to their campaigns and, it goes without saying, something has got to give. Both teams had similar off-seasons with departures of several key players from 2017 but they’ve both responded positively with the huge changes. When both teams met in the Regular Season back in 2017, Bravos Knights won both games en route finishing as the #1 seed in the Mainland Conference. However, when it mattered most in the Mainland Conference title match, it was Raineri Ghost who grabbed the victory after a penalty shootout.
The game features some of the best performers of the season so far: Raineri’s Olisemeka Esumeh, voted (joint) Player of the Month for April and Bravos Knights’ Abbey Omobulegbe who grabbed himself the Goal of the Month award for March and is already on 3 goals after 2 Matchdays.
The approach to the game could be tricky for Raineri Ghost. Bravos Knights may be known for their deadly attack but their defense has perhaps been more impressive with no goal conceded since late October, the longest run in SociaLiga history. On the two occasions where they tried to match Bravos’ attack with an attack of their own, they failed. The one time they did get a victory, it was their somewhat conservative approach that saw them nick it on penalties. A little something to ponder on ahead of Saturday.
All Black v Guns
Both teams met on the opening day of the season with All Black claiming a hard fought victory. Guns may have had a busy off-season with the managerial changes and new signings but it has failed to yield positive results so far. Consecutive losses to start the season now leaves them with 4 straight SociaLiga losses and without a clean sheet since October; the 2nd worst run in SociaLiga history. A loss on Saturday would seriously damage their chances of making the playoff and you’ll have to imagine they’ll be the more aggressive side.
For All Black, it’s been a season filled with some positives. Statistically, they have one of the best attacks in the league with 3 goals scored in each of their last 2 games. However, defensive problems from last season continue to linger. Their 9 goals conceded so far this season is the worst record by any side this season by some distance and concerns about this undoing the good work being done by the attacking unit up front might begin to creep up.
All Black’s new found aerial threat could be a huge headache for Guns to cope with considering historically, they’ve failed to cope with that in the past. If they can, and if Sly can duplicate his debut performance for them (which saw him grab a brace) they should be hopeful of breaking their losing streak.
Guns v Raineri Ghost
Both teams meet just a year after their first forgettable encounter on Matchday 2 of last season which ended goalless. It goes without saying that for both Guns and Raineri Ghost, their first game of the day (against All Black and Bravos Knights, respectively) would have a huge impact on how both teams approach this game. Regardless of the outcome of their first games, Guns would be the more desperate side coming into this. A loss in this game would mean a loss of 50% of their games this season which would seriously jeopardize their chances of making the playoff. Even worse, they face a Raineri side known for exploiting sides with leaky defenses, something Guns have been trying to fix for well over a year now.
Sly is no stranger to facing Guns. Last season, he faced them with Royals on 3 occasions, grabbing 2 goals in those 3 games. His speed and huge frame meant he was able to capitalize on Raineri playing a highline (to score his first against them) and also bully his way in the midst of defenders (to score his second). Sadly, he ended up on the losing side on 2 of those 3 occasions. He’ll be called upon on Saturday, obviously, but if Guns are to learn anything from the past it is that teams need a good defensive display to get the better of Raineri.