Rivers United will continue their quest to win an away fixture for the first time this season on Thursday when they face Kano Pillars in a rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game in Kano.
Winning in Kano is easier said than done as ‘Sai Masu Gida’ rarely lose at the own stately patch with vociferous support almost always guaranteed.
United’s form on the road have been far from impressive this term but the ‘Pride of Rivers’ put up a spirited display in the second half of their last fixture on the road – a 1-2 defeat to the champions, Enugu Rangers – to raise hopes amongst the faithful of a fruitful expedition in Kano.
Technical manager of the Port Harcourt club, Stanley Eguma however has to mastermind what would arguably represent his biggest feat of the season, domestically, without at least eight of his first team stars.
Joseph Douhadji, Abiodun Akande, Bolaji Sakin, Guy Kuemian, Ayo Saka, Ayobami Asekunowo, Godbless Asamoah and club captain, Festus Austine have all been ruled out of Thursday’s clash in Kano with varying degrees of injuries and indisposition and it has left Eguma dripping with cold sweat.
“Participating in the Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup coupled with playing congested fixtures in the NPFL has really taken a toll on my squad,” Eguma told our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“Almost all my (first team) players are injured and there is a lot of fatigue in the squad.
“It is killing but we don’t have an alternative; we have to honour the fixtures and respect the decisions of the League Management Company,” he said.
Pillars will also miss important personnel but in stark contrast to United, the concerned dramatis personae is just a solitary stand out figure – Junior Lokosa, who was issued a straight red card for a foul on Enyimba’s Ifeanyi Anaemena on match day 32.
Head coach of Pillars, Ibrahim Musa isn’t exactly working with a depleted squad and will be relying on talent like Yusuf Mohammed, Bala Zakka, Idris Aloma, Mohammed Jamil, Chinedu Udoji, Alassan Ibrahim, Rabiu Ali and Nyima Nwangua (formerly at the fringes at United) to deliver the goods at a rocking Sani Abacha Stadium on Thursday.
He also spoke to our official media channel about the upcoming game.
“To me, playing against Rivers United is not a big game because I see all opponents as equal,” he began.
“We won’t underrate any team; the team we played last time in Kano, Remo Stars had very good players too so we have learned not to underrate any team.
“Every victory gives you three points and not two or four points so we will play against Rivers United as we play against any other team.
“We need maximum points against Rivers United because the position Kano Pillars currently occupies on the NPFL log is not good enough.
“We are working hard to lift Pillars up to the continental positions so we will like to finish in the top three places on the table,” he concluded.
A titanic contest awaits even though the losing sets of Gladiators will not be literally ‘sent to the mines’.
Game: Kano Pillars versus Rivers United
Competition: Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
Match day: 27 (rescheduled)
Current positions of respective clubs on the NPFL log:
Kano Pillars (10th); Rivers United (15th)
Date: Thursday, August 3, 2017
Venue: Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano
Time: 4 pm
**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 our official Twitter account (@RiversUnitedFC) and official Whatsaap channel from 3:15 pm on match day.
Form guide (last five NPFL matches)
Kano Pillars (LWLWL)
Kano Pillars 0-2 Wikki Tourists (A)
Kano Pillars 2-0 Enugu Rangers (H)
Kano Pillars 0-1 Katsina United (A)
Kano Pillars 2-0 Remo Stars (H)
Kano Pillars 0-1 Enyimba (A)
Rivers United (LDLWD)
Rivers United 0-0 ABS (A)
Rivers United 0-1 Sunshine Stars (H)
Rivers United 3-1 Wikki Tourists (H)
Rivers United 1-1 Akwa United (H)
Rivers United 1-2 Enugu Rangers (A)
Previous meetings in competitive matches (Head-to-head)
Matches: Three (3)
Rivers United wins: One (1)
Kano Pillars wins: One (1)
Draws; One (1)
Goals for: Rivers United (2); Kano Pillars (2)
Goals against: Rivers United (2); Kano Pillars (2)
Points accumulated: Rivers United (4); Kano Pillars (4)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Game one: Rivers United 1-0 Kano Pillars (NPFL: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on April 17, 2016).
Game two: Kano Pillars 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL: Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on August 21, 2016)
Game three: Rivers United 1-1 Kano Pillars (NPFL: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on February 22, 2011).
Ogbugh: Rivers United’s secret weapon
Emeka Ogbugh is a man in a rich vein of form.
Pacy, crafty, super intelligent and blessed with the instinct of a cold-blooded poacher, Ogbugh is clearly the man to watch in Thursday’s rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clash between Kano Pillars and Rivers United in Kano.
Ogbugh has scored in his last three games for United and will be looking to score on Thursday to make it fourth time lucky.
The attacker spoke to our official website,www.riversunitedfc.com.ng on his recent purple patch.
“It has been all about hard work and seeking the face of God because in the last few weeks, I have worked very hard in training.
“We want three points against Kano Pillars because we are desperately in need of points.
“We are working hard towards that and will get it, God being our helper,” he said.
Baring a surprise of monumental proportions, Ogbugh is certain to lead United’s attack against Pillars on Thursday.