Rivers United return to the rigours of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) after their exertions in the Caf Confederation Cup.
Just four days ago, United, Nigeria’s lone survivor in CAF’s interclub competitions this year overcame 2010 CAF Confederation Cup champions, FUS Rabat 1-0 in Port Harcourt to put their campaign back on track.
They will now look to repeat similar heroics on Sunday in the NPFL when they come up against a fired-up El-Kanemi side that could go level on points with the leaders, Plateau United if they trip the ‘Pride of Rivers’ in Maiduguri.
El-Kanemi Warriors have been peerless at home this term while Rivers United have yet to win on the road in all competitions this season.
Isah Ladan Bosso, head coach of El-Kanemi Warriors is known for making wholesale changes to his squads on a game-by-game basis so it will be no real surprise if star personnel like Chibuzor Okonkwo, Lucky Erimuya, Aghahowa Otakho, Bello Kofarmata, Dele Olorundare and Isiaka Olawale are given ‘a rest’ while less stellar names take to the pitch, if the words of the experienced gaffer are to be believed.
“This is just going to be like any other match. I pray and hope I will collect three points (on Sunday).
“Our impressive home form this season is down to the fact that I have a lot of rookies in my team.
“These rookies are indigenes of Borno State; they always want to go the extra mile and give their best when they play at home.
“When I go for away matches, I don’t travel with these players because they are not too exposed,” Bosso told our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
Going by recent home performances by the Warriors, Rivers United will expect an early onslaught from the young guns who are more than eager to earn a name for themselves.
The United technical manager, Azunda Stanley Eguma is expected to make wholesale changes to his squad with a tricky trip to Kampala on the horizon as they prepare to face Kampala CCA on match day three of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Eguma knows he faces a battle on his hands if he is to become the first coach to lead a side to victory over Maiduguri side at their own patch.
He acknowledges that if his side is to complete the double over the Warriors, (United won the reverse fixture 2-1 on match day one in Port Harcourt), they will have to do what no side has managed in the NPFL this season.
“They (El-Kanemi Warriors) have been impressive at home but they can be beaten because they are not invincible,” he said.
Tough-sounding words but Eguma is as experienced as they come.
Sunday’s game is guaranteed to be a fascinating watch and United will have to display grit, fighting spirit, belief and play the perfect game if they are to avoid defeat at the El-Kanemi Stadium, Maiduguri on Sunday.
Game: El-Kanemi Warriors versus Rivers United
Competition: Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
Current positions of respective clubs on the NPFL log: El-Kanemi Warriors (3rd); Rivers United (12th)
Date: Sunday, May 28, 2017
Venue: El-Kanemi Stadium, Maiduguri
Form guide (last five NPFL matches)
El-Kanemi Warriors (LWLWL)
El-Kanemi Warriors 0-1 Shooting Stars (A)
El-Kanemi Warriors 1-0 Kano Pillars (H)
El-Kanemi Warriors 0-3 MFM FC (A)
El-Kanemi Warriors 1-0 ABS FC (H)
El-Kanemi Warriors 1-2 ABS FC (A)
Rivers United (WWLLW)
Rivers United 1-0 Abia Warriors (H)
Rivers United 2-0 Katsina United (A)
Rivers United 0-1 Nasarawa United (A)
Rivers United 1-0 Remo Stars (H)
Rivers United 1-0 Nasarawa United (H)
Previous meetings (Head-to-head)
Matches: Three (3)
El Kanemi Warriors wins; One (1)
Rivers United wins: Two (2)
Points accumulated in competitive matches: El-Kanemi Warriors- three (3), Rivers United- six (6)
Goals for: El-Kanemi Warriors- two (2); Rivers United- three (3)
Goals against: El-Kanemi Warriors- three (3); Rivers United- two (2)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Rivers United 1-0 El Kanemi Warriors (Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on April 6, 2016; NPFL)
El Kanemi Warriors 1-0 Rivers United (El Kanemi Stadium, Maiduguri on August 7,2016; NPFL)
Rivers United 2-1 El-Kanemi Warriors (Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on January 15, 2017; NPFL)