There is a new spirit, a positive one, in the camp of Rivers United FC right now.
Heads, hitherto dropped, following a morale shattering ouster from the 2017 Caf Confederation Cup, are no longer in that position!
The new-found belief amongst playing personnel, technical staff and management team stemmed from a heroic display in Illorin on Sunday as ABS dropped were stopped in their tracks by the darlings of Rivers State in a dramatic 0-0 draw.
It was the first time since March 1, when they outplayed Wikki Tourists in a high-octane 0-0 draw at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi that United would avoid defeat on the road (a run that spanned seven away fixtures) in a Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game.
Technical manager of United, Stanley Eguma is eager to consolidate on that result in Akure by masterminding success for his side on Wednesday.
“Sunshine Stars is a very strong team and they will fire (on all cylinders) having lost at home (on Sunday to Nasarawa United),” Eguma told our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“We have to intensify our efforts in training, strategize and try to beat Sunshine Stars.
“We know they are in Port Harcourt as a determined side that will try to redeem their image so we are not going to relent.
“We will work above our capacity and try to get the points at stake,” he said.
United have yet to taste defeat at home in domestic competition this season but they meet a side that can strike with deadly efficiency on their travels.
The ‘Akure Gunners’ smacked ABS FC 4-2 the last time they played away from home in the NPFL and will be looking to avoid defeat in Port Harcourt following their shock 0-1 loss at home to Nasarawa United on Sunday.
Head coach of Sunshine Stars, Duke Udi has trusted personnel who will be saddled with the task of leaving pain, heartbreak and gnashing of teeth in their wake in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper, Henry Ayodele knows the ‘Pride of Rivers’ well having played for the Port Harcourt club, albeit an unhappy stint from a personal perspective, last season.
He returns with a point to prove having failed to make any competitive appearance (save for a cameo in the 2016 Rivers State FA Cup final) for last season’s NPFL runners up with Sunday Rotimi and Godwin Anyalogu proving to be top dogs last term.
Captain Sunday Abe is a man with bags of experience and he will marshal a mobile defence that also integrates Michael Okoyoh and Oke Ogagotewho.
Left back, Adeniyi Alaba can cuase dame on the flanks and Ifeanyi Nweke will have to be on top of his game to avoid any surprises.
Nojeem Raji, Michael Okoyoh, Agogo Dayo Ojo, Joseph Abbey and striker, Ajibola Otegbeye are other individuals who can cause problems for Eguma and his men on Wednesday.
Udi is full of respect for Eguma and his Rivers United side that seem to be on a renaissance having lost just once in their last five NPFL matches.
“Rivers United is a team with continental experience having participated in this year’s CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.
“They have a lot of good players and their coach (Eguma) is someone that I respect.
“Many young coaches look up to him (Eguma) and you cannot question his technical (expertise),” he told the Sunshine Stars official media channel.
Having lost the reverse fixture 0-1 in Akure on match day 10, United will be keen to avoid suffering yet another defeat against a side they also failed to beat in Port Harcourt last season.
Game: Rivers United versus Sunshine Stars
Competition: Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
Match day: 30
Current positions of respective clubs on the NPFL log: Rivers United (13th); Sunshine Stars (16th)
Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Venue: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt
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 3:45 pm on match day.
Previous meetings (head-to-head)
Form guide (last five NFL matches)
Rivers United (DWWLW)
Rivers United 2-1 FC Ifeanyiubah (H)
Rivers United 0-1 Lobi Stars (A)
Rivers United 1-0 Shooting Stars SC (H)
Rivers United 1-0 MFM FC (H)
Rivers United 0-0 ABS FC (A)
Sunshine Stars (LWWLW)
Sunshine Stars 2-1 Gombe United (H)
Sunshine Stars 1-2 MFM FC (A)
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Abia Warriors (H)
Sunshine Stars 4-2 ABS FC (A)
Sunshine Stars 0-1 Nasarawa United (H)
Previous meetings in competitive matches (Head-to-head)
Matches: Three (3)
Sunshine Stars wins: Two (2) Rivers United wins: Nil (0)
Draws; One (1)
Goals for: Sunshine Stars (2); Rivers United (0)
Goals against: Sunshine Stars (0); Rivers United (2)
Points accumulated: Sunshine Stars: Seven (7); Rivers United: One (1)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Game one: Rivers United 0-0 Sunshine Stars (NPFL: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on March 23, 2016).
Game two: Sunshine Stars 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL: Akure Township Stadium on July 23, 2016).
Game three: Sunshine Stars 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL: Akure Township Stadium on February 26, 2017).