Winning three games on the spin is something Rivers United have not managed to do this season.
The ‘Pride of Rivers’ will accomplish that if they manage to overcome FC Ifeanyiubah on Sunday in one of the standout fixtures of match day 11 of this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
United currently ride the crest of a wave after recording a 1-0 victory over Kwara United in Illorin on match day 10.
Technical manager of the Port Harcourt side, Stanley Eguma however insists that the result in Illorin will count for nothing if his side fails to follow it up with another win over the ‘Anambra Warriors’ on Sunday.
“We need to consolidate on the victory over Kwara United with (another) victory over FC Ifeanyiubah on Sunday,” Eguma told our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“We have to work very hard and fashion out a strategy that will enable us get the three points at stake.
“It will be an extremely difficult match as FC Ifeanyiubah is always strong when they play in Port Harcourt,” Eguma said.
Last season’s clash between the two sides in Port Harcourt is already etched in Rivers United folklore.
With the scores locked at 1-1 and the game already deep into second half stoppage time, veteran, Efosa Egukun weaved his magic, leaving several markers in his wake before firing a rocket into the top corner from an acute angle with practically the game’s last kick.
The home faithful were duly thrown into fits of hysteria and that game is still talked about to this day.
Team News: Rivers United
Goalkeeper, Emeka Nwabulu has resumed training with the first team after making a complete recovery from the shoulder injury he picked up during the South-South pre-season tournament in Port Harcourt in January.
More good news from the infirmary was also reported during the week with experienced midfielder, Eneji Otekpa resuming light training after a freak injury ruled him out of action for several weeks.
Otekpa was last included in a match day squad of United in the 0-2 defeat to Sunshine Stars in Akure on January 24.
Defensive midfielder, Emeka Atuloma is also in line for his season’s debut after completing full training with the squad on Friday.
FCIU: A puzzling proposition
FC Ifeanyiubah have scored on two separate occasions on their travels this term (against Niger Tornadoes on match day two and MFM FC on match day four).
The Ozubulu club have however failed to score on the road in their last three games which ended in defeats against Wikki Tourists, Lobi Stars and Katsina United.
FC Ifeanyiubah is one of seven sides yet to claim even a solitary point on the road this season. (Abia Warriors, Nasarawa United, Go Round FC, MFM FC, El Kanemi Warriors and Wikki Tourists are the other six sides)
Head coach of FC Ifeanyiubah, Ladan Bosso however believes things will change in Port Harcourt on Sunday.
“All matches are big and we know the challenge ahead; we know that Rivers United parades a lot of experienced players and we are conscious of their form in recent times,” Bosso told our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“We are also conscious of our form in recent times and we are trying to see what we can do.
“I believe that if things work well, we will go back (to Nnewi) with something,” he said.
Paschal Seka was outstanding in FCIU’s last NPFL contest; a 1-0 win over Nasarawa United in Nnewi on February 25, in which he plundered the game’s only goal.
Seka is a certain starter on Sunday while Drissa Bamba will keep his place between the sticks unless he breaks a limb before kick-off.
Umar Faruq, Wasiu Jimoh, Chidume Onyekachi, Awazie Ekene, Osia Felix, Msonter Tony, Kone Yaya and captain, Ikeokwu Patrick are also important personnel that will look to put the spanner in the works for the home side.
Football matches between these two sides are never dull affairs and Sundays’ promises to serve yet another exciting instalment.
Game: Rivers United versus FCIU
Competition: Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
Match day: Eleven (11)
Current positions of respective clubs on the NPFL log: Rivers United: Sixth (6th); FCIU: Eleventh (11th)
Date: Sunday, March 4, 2018
Venue: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt
Time: 4 pm
There will be robust coverage of this game by our media team (that will include videos and photos from the venue) simultaneously via our official Twitter account (@RiversUnitedFC) and official WhatsApp channel from 3:30 pm on match day.
Form guide (last five NPFL matches)
Rivers United (WWLWL)
Rivers United 0-1 Enugu Rangers (A)
Rivers United 1-0 Go Round (H)
Rivers United 0-1 Yobe Desert Stars (A)
Rivers United 2-0 Niger Tornadoes (H)
Rivers United 1-0 Kwara United (A)
FCIU 1-1 Akwa United (H)
FCIU 0-1 Lobi Stars (A)
FCIU 2-0 Heartland (H)
FCIU 0-3 Katsina United (A)
FCIU 1-0 Nasarawa United (H)
Previous meetings (Head-to-head)
Matches: Five (5)
FCIU wins: One (1) Rivers United wins: Three (3)
Draws; One (1)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Rivers United 2-0 FCIU (NPFL; Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on February 28, 2016)
FCIU 2-0 Rivers United (NPFL; FC Ifeanyiubah Stadium, Nnewi June 19, 2016)
FCIU 0-2 Rivers United (NPFL Super 4, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on December 10, 2016).
FCIU 0-0 Rivers United (NPFL; FC Ifeanyiubah Stadium, Nnewi January 25, 2017)
Rivers United 2-1 FCIU (NPFL; Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on June 11, 2017)
Photo credit: LMC