NPFL match day 25 preview: Lobi Stars versus Rivers UnitedRivers United travel to Makurdi with hopes of winning their first away game in all competitions this season but know they have to produce a perfect performance while hoping that their opponents have an off day to achieve that feat.
Lobi Stars come into the game with the extra motivation of the knowledge that a win on Friday at the Aper Aku Stadium will see them move up to third spot on the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) table for 48 hours, at least.
With the Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma revealing earlier in the week how irked he is that United have yet to strike gold on the road in three competitions (CAF Champions League, Confederation Cup and NPFL) this term, Lobi Stars supremo, Solomon Ogbebeide, an experienced gaffer himself, knows his wards cannot afford to be lulled into a false sense of security or approach the game with kids’ gloves.
“Rivers United is a very good team; very compact.
“It is not for nothing that they are the only club representing Nigeria on the continent so we respect them.
“The game will not be easy and we have to play well to win,” he told our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
He has a strong spine of goalkeeper, Okiemute Odah (unbeatable between the sticks on his day), captain and centre half, Anthony Agbaji and fearsome forwards, Kingsley Eduwo and Anthony Okpotu who plundered a hattrick the last time Lobi Stars played competitively at the own stately patch.
Eguma welcomes back Ivoirian marksman, Guy Kuemian who has not played competitively since suffering a contusion of the right foot on May 24 in the club’s Caf Confederation Cup game against Moroccan club, FUS Rabat.
Veteran goalkeeper, Sunday Gadimoh Rotimi is still side lined with a hamstring injury so Abiodun Akande is expected to deputize in his stead between the sticks while Femi Thomas is the second goalkeeper included in the match day squad.
Obomate Frederick also returns after missing Sunday’s dramatic 2-1 win over FC Ifeanyiubah in Port Harcourt while Malian attacker, Kanoute Abdoulaye is in line to make his debut for the club.
Eguma is keen to oversee his first victory on the road this season after several near-misses in past weeks/months.
“The first thing is to apologize to the fans because (failing to win away so far) is unfortunate.
“We will do our best. I think we need to sit up and win our next game (against Lobi Stars).
“Every game is important whether it is at home or away; what we need to do now is to correct our mistakes and come out stronger in the next game.
“It is important for us to do that,” Eguma explained.
This will be a crucial game for both sides for varying reasons and it is certain to be a compelling encounter.
Game: Lobi Stars versus Rivers United
Competition: Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
Current positions of respective clubs on the NPFL log: Lobi Stars (7th); Rivers United (15th)
Date: Friday, June 16, 2017
Venue: Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi
Live coverage: There will be robust coverage of this game by our media team (that will include videos and photos from the venue) simultaneously via out official Twitter account (@RiversUnitedFC) and official Whatsaap channel from 3:15pm on match day.
Form guide (last five NPFL matches)
Lobi Stars (LWLWW):
Lobi Stars 1-0 Sunshine Stars (A)
Lobi Stars 3-0 Shooting Stars (H)
Lobi Stars 1-2 Kano Pillars (A)
Lobi Stars 3-1 MFM FC (H)
Lobi Stars 0-1 ABS (A)
Rivers United (WLLWW)
Rivers United 1-0 Remo Stars (Home)
Rivers United 1-0 Nasarawa United (Home)
Rivers United 1-2 El-Kanemi Warriors (Away)
Rivers United 0-1 Niger Tornadoes (Away)
Rivers United 2-1 FCIU (Home)
Previous meetings in competitive matches (Head-to-head)
Matches: Three (3) Rivers United wins: One (1) Lobi Stars wins: One (1) Draws; One (1)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Game one: Lobi Stars 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL; Aper Aku Stadium Makurdi on May 22, 2016).
Game two: Rivers United 1-0 Lobi Stars (NPFL; Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on June 5, 2016)
Game three: Rivers United 0-0 Lobi Stars (NPFL: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on January 29, 2017).
Rivers United signs Malian star, Kanoute
Malian star, Abdoulaye Kanoute has joined Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club, Rivers United after stints in Lebanon, Bahrain and India.
Kanoute joins the Port Harcourt club as a free agent.
He has signed a one-year deal with the ‘Pride of Rivers’ after a four-year spell at Lebanese Premier League club Shabab Al-Sahel.
The 26-year-old who is in line to make his debut for Rivers United in Friday’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game against Lobi Stars in Makurdi spoke about his happiness at sealing the deal.
“I am happy to join this club which has a family atmosphere and I have been accepted by the rest of the squad,” Kanoute told supersport.com on Thursday.
“The coach (Stanley Eguma) saw my video and believed I can help the club especially in the Caf Confederation Cup.
“I hope to do my best to help the club,” he said.
Eguma, on his part, explained that Kanoute brings ‘something special’ to the team.
“It is not always that I sign players that I have not watched in person but after watching his videos, I was convinced.
“Also, our scouting team led by Bright Ogude was impressed with him so it was not a unilateral decision.
“Having watched him closely these past few days, I can say that Kanoute brings something special to the team and we only hope he can adapt quickly to Nigerian football.
“I will decide (on Friday) morning whether or not he will play against Lobi Stars but he has done well in training this week and has been included in the match day squad,” he said.
Kanoute joins other foreign nationals like Yaovi Douhadji (Togo), Zoumana Doumbia (Mali), Godbless Asamoah (Ghana), Aliassou Sanou (Burkina Faso) and Guy Kuemian (the Ivory Coast) at the Rivers United set up.
Born on May 14, 1992, Abdoulaye has previously played for Bahrain First Division League club, Malkiya and National Football League (India) club, Churchill Brothers SC.