Match-day Two of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is laced with plenty of intriguing fixtures today and the contest between Akwa United and Rivers United is certainly one of them.
Uyo’s storied ‘Nest of Champions’, the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium is the venue for the game which holds this evening.
The two sides met twice last season in the NPFL with the Pride of Rivers winning both fixtures in Port Harcourt and Uyo, respectively.
Akwa United and Rivers United began the 2016/17 season in contrasting fashion with the Uyo club surprisingly losing 1-3 to newly-promoted ABS FC in Ilorin on Sunday.
Things were more straightforward for Port Harcourt-based Rivers United as they claimed a 2-1 victory over El Kanemi Warriors at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.
The stakes will be extremely high on Friday as the ‘Promise Keepers’ will be eager to get off to a flyer in their first home game of the season, particularly after suffering a reverse in Ilorin on Sunday.
Akwa’s Head Coach, Abdul Maikaba, has two former Rivers United stars, Aremu Afeez and Ofem Inah in his ranks as he look to topple the ‘Pride of Rivers’ on Wednesday with the duo almost certain to provide ‘inside information’ about the workings of the Port Harcourt club.
Other personnel that will likely feature for Akwa United this evening include; Cyril Olisema, Moses Ebiye, Christian Pyagbara and feared marksman, Hassan Babangida.
Godspower Igudia scored Akwa’s solitary goal in Ilorin against ABS on Sunday and the Rivers United rear guard will do well to pay the skilful marksman close attention.
Maikaba is full of respect for United but insists his side will amass maximum points on Wednesday.
“We can beat Rivers United by maybe two or three goals to pay them back in their own coin, what they did to us in Uyo last season (when Rivers United won 2-1 on enemy territory on the final day of the 2016 season).
“No doubt, it will be a very good match mainly because of the pre-season enjoyed by Rivers United.
“No club in the NPFL went through that process (of such a well-detailed pre-season exercise prosecuted by Rivers United).
“We will try to get three points against Rivers United on Wednesday,” Maikaba told the club’s official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
There are no injury worries or suspensions in the United camp and Technical Manager, Stanley Eguma has set his sights on a positive performance from his wards.
“I have congratulated the boys for the win (against El Kanemi Warriors on Sunday) even though it was anything but a perfect performance.
“It’s hard to play a perfect game at this stage of the season because there is still a lot of work to do integrating the old players with the new to create a compact unit and a perfect blend.
“Now, we must try to get a good result against Akwa United; an excellent team that will have the full backing of their fans on Wednesday.
“It will be a very difficult game and if my players don’t perform to the best of our abilities, I am very sure we will lose,” he said.
Rivers United captain, Festus Austin is also expectant of maximum points from the ‘Uyo expedition’.
“We want maximum points in Uyo,” he said simply.
A compelling contest awaits and fireworks are guaranteed at the Nest of Champions.
In Gombe, Remo Stars Football Club return to action against Gombe United Football at the Pantami Stadium.
It’s the first game on the road for the Sky Blue Stars as both teams had earlier met at the Nigeria National League, NNL Super 4 in December 2016.
The Sky Blue Stars defeated Gombe United 3-1 on penalties after both teams played out a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
Going into this encounter Captain, Victor Mbaoma has indicated that him and his teammates are not under any pressure in getting a result but instead they want a result for themselves and make a statement.
Mbaoma disclosed that the team isn’t under pressure to win today but they will play to win.
“We have to respect our opponent by playing and defending well. We are not under any pressure at all but we will try our best possible to win.”
“We won against them in the NNL Super 4 and we can replicate such performance when we play them again on Wednesday.”
“We lost our first game at home but that won’t affect us from playing our game to win and we will be successful at the end of the game in Gombe by God’s grace”.
The Sky Blue Stars lost 1-2 at home in the first game in the NPFL against Plateau United in Sagamu on Sunday
Lobi v Kano Pillars
IfeanyiUbah v MFM FC
Akwa Utd v Rivers Utd
Tornadoes v ABS FC
El Kanemi v Wikki
Nasarawa v Rangers
Abia W’ v Katsina Utd
Gombe v Remo Stars
Plateau Utd v Enyimba
Sunshine v Shooting