Two sides in patchy form, Wikki Tourists and Rivers United will go toe to toe in a desperate scrap for crucial points on Wednesday in Bauchi as the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) enters match day 11.
United have yet to win in their last five NPFL fixtures which prompted the club’s sponsor (the Rivers State Government) to read the riot act to the technical and management staff to either sit up or shape out.
Wikki’s circumstances are not happier either as they are currently ensconced in the relegation zone after picking up 10 points from their first eight matches.
Wednesday’s fixture couldn’t have been more important for both sides who are in dire need of points.
Omo Johnson, a midfielder of Wikki Tourists insists recording a win against the ‘Pride of Rivers’ is non-negotiable.
“We travelled to Illorin (for our last game versus ABS) and couldn’t come back with a point but now we want three points against Rivers United and I am sure we will get the win,” Johnson told the official website of Rivers United FC, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
Johnson is likely to start in midfield for Wikki, albeit from an attacking position, alongside stalwarts Bature Yaro and former United star, Victor Alegbe.
Head coach of Wikki, Mohammed Babaganaru is also blessed with experienced personnel like Emeka Nwabulu (one of the finest goalkeepers in the country), Festus Umanah, Jonathan Zikiye, Harrison Madu, Nnaemeka Anyawu and Idris Guda Mohammed who is one of the most exciting attackers in the division.
They will however come up against a United side that will be keen to record a first victory since January 22 (when they overcame Niger Tornadoes 1-0 in Port Harcourt).
United’s gaffer, Eguma is as experienced as they come and knows an outright win in Bauchi will ease mounting pressure on his shoulders.
“It is a must-win game for us because we have been confined to a backs-to-the-wall situation.
“We have no option but to attack and try to win the game. </p>
“It is very possible but we must show concentration and commitment to ensure that we get it right,” he said.
Form guide (last five NPFL matches)
Wikki Toirists (LWLWL)
Wikki Tourists 0-2 Niger Tornadoes (A)
Wikki Tourists 3-1 FC Ifeanyiubah (H)
Wikki Tourists 0-2 Lobi Stars (A)
Wikki Tourists 1-0 Shooting Stars (H)
Wikki Tourists 0-1 ABS FC (A)
Rivers United (LDLDD)
Rivers United 0-0 FC Ifeanyiubah (A)
Rivers United 0-0 Lobi Stars (H)
Rivers United 1-2 Shooting Stars (A)
Rivers United 1-1 Kano Pillars (H)
Rivers United 0-1 Sunshine Stars (A)
Previous meetings (head-to-head)
Matches: Three (3)
Wikki Tourists’ wins: One (1)
Rivers United wins: Two (2)
Draws; Nil (0)
Goals for: Wikki Tourists (1); Rivers United (2)
Goals against: Sunshine Stars (2); Rivers United (1)
Points accumulated (in competitive matches): Wikki Tourists (3); Rivers United (3)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Rivers United 1-0 Wikki Tourists (NPFL: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on May 11, 2016).
Wikki Tourists 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL: Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi on September 18, 2016).
Wikki Tourists 0-1 Rivers United (NPFL Super 4: Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on December 11, 2016).