Nigerian champions Enyimba and Heartland, one of two teams yet to be relegated from the country’s top-flight, are up for difficult games on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
The Peoples Elephant are in the southwest town of Abeokuta where they will square up against Ikorodu United while relegation-threatened Heartland make the long trip to the northeast to face El-Kanemi Warriors.
Paul Aigbogun and his men will look to do their title defence a whole lot of good at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Wednesday against a team that look already destined to play in the Nigeria second tier next season. But Ikorodu United could play spoilers as they have hit a purple patch rather too late.
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions will come under scrutiny from the Oga Boys, who have string together four runs without a loss, including hammering four-time champions Kano Pillars 4-1 and stunning Heartland 1-0 in front of their supporters.
The two-time African champions laboured to a 1-0 win over Ikorodu United in the first meeting in March when Ugochukwu Leonard scored at the death, but that will now count for nothing as Enyimba know they will have to win to stay within touching distance of the top-ranked teams in the NPFL standings.
Heartland, on the other hand, have a difficult game to navigate when they go head-to-head against El-Kanemi, who have been imperious at home. The Maiduguri club have won all of their last 11 league matches and that makes the task before Naze Millionaires a Herculean one.
It would be a major lift-off for Heartland who are yet to win an away game in the league this season but have managed draws at Wikki Tourists, Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Warri Wolves and Sunshine Stars.
Heartland won the first meeting with El-Kanemi 2-1 in May.