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Preview : MatchDay4 Mainland Conference

Bravos Knights FC v All Black FC

Both teams met on the opening day when goals from Toyin Thomas and that stunner from Omodbuldbe Abbey Iyanroese helped seal a 2-0 win for Bravos Knights. All Black’s approach to the game was a bit strange. While they weren’t exactly the better of the two sides, it did feel like they could get back into the game if only they got out of first gear. Their midfield and wingers seemed very solid on that day but there wasn’t much of a connection between the midfield and attack. You wouldn’t be mistaken if you said All Black were playing without a traditional #10 or anything similar to it. Eventually, Bravos were able to figure out that All Black channeled their attacks down the flanks & were able to shut it down.

All Black have since improved on their attack, heavily, we must say. Their 7 goals scored this season is the joint 3rd in the entire league and they’ve come from 6 different goal scorers (and an own goal) which has made them very hard to predict going forward. Their problem, however, remains their defense; a problem they’ve been trying to sort out since last season. Their 11 goals conceded is the worst record in the league by some distance & is perhaps the main reason they’re currently bottom of the Mainland Conference and in danger of missing the playoff for a 2nd season in a row. If they’re to turn things around and save their season, which isn’t beyond impossible, the defense would need to come through with a top performance.

Bravos Knights, on the other hand, are just 1pt away from making the playoffs for the second season in a row. They’re 3pts clear at the top of the Mainland Conference despite not looking as good as they did last season and – perhaps, this is this the more impressive bit – despite the improved quality in the Mainland Conference. Head Coach, Alabi Kazeem had previously pointed out that his team wasn’t a high scoring side so a lot of attention has been paid to their defending and he couldn’t be more right. They might be topping the league but statistically, they’ve got the least potent attack in the conference with 6 goals in 4 games. However, they’ve got the joint best defense in the league alongside Dannaz FC conceding just 3 goals & keeping a league high 2 clean sheets.

All Black will be the more offensive side when these 2 sides meet. Their season could be over if they lose and they’d want to prove to themselves and their fans they’re good enough to make the playoffs. In Alabi Kazeem, Bravos Knights have arguably the best coach in the entire league. He’s a fantastic reader of the game and will be just as important as any of his players on the pitch. Outsmarting him should be All Black’s primary aim.

Raineri Ghost FC v Guns FC

With both teams levelled on points and needing just 1 win to seal a playoff spot, Raineri Ghost & Guns meet in what should be the game of the day. Both teams met on Matchday 3 and things weren’t exactly suitable for viewing by kids. Two controversial moments resulted in two Raineri Ghost players, Chidozie Nwachukwu and David Ikhariale each receiving 1 game suspensions. The game itself was very enjoyable, though. After a bore draw when they met last year, we were fed 5 goals in this encounter and if the stats are to believed, this game should feature goals as well. Raineri Ghost & Guns are two of the best attacking sides this season with 17 goals scored between them this season. However, they equally have two of the worst defenses in the league shipping in 8 goals apiece. Goals guaranteed, it seems.

Guns’ attention would undoubtedly be on Raineri’s duo, Kelechi Nwafor and Olisemeka Esumeh who have 6 goals between them. The Ghosts have replaced Shahin’s goals from last season with relative ease. Striker Olisemeka (4 goals) is pushing really hard for the Golden Boot award and every time he steps on the pitch, he looks like he’d add to his tally. Against Guns on Matchday 3, Raineri tweaked their attack a bit with less long balls played into the opponent penalty area. Instead, they opted for attacking primarily down their left flank and repeatedly exposed Guns’ weakness at Right Back. It resulted in Omolade Thomas’s absolute pitch of an equalizer early in the second half & they could be looking to exploit that again on the 11th of August.

For Guns, Mujeeb Oguntowo would be getting the attention from Raineri’s big guys at the back. After a very quiet debut season last year, Mujeeb announced himself with 4 goals on Matchday 3 with braces against All Black and The Ghost. His size, speed and awareness makes him a handful and alongside Sly, they should form one hell of a scary attacking duo as the Regular Season draws to a close.

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