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Fed Cup preview: Rivers United vs Papilo FC

The oldest football competition in Nigeria-the Federation Cup- has been severally described as the scourge of the giants and the delight of minnows.

Unheralded sides have, in the past, put more illustrious opponents to the sword in previous years in the competition.

On Wednesday, a classic ‘David versus Goliath’ contest will take centre stage as the leaders of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Rivers United take on Nationwide League (third tier) Papilo FC.

United, ordinarily will be expected to hand out some football lessons to Papilo FC but then, this is the Federation Cup.

Papilo FC have already shown they possess credentials of a serious side following their 1-0 win over former champions, Heartland in the final of the 2016 Imo State FA Cup.

The Owerri based club, whose President is Nigerian football legend, will certainly not be easy opponents for the high-flying United on Wednesday at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.

Club chairman, Prince Ray Ebele insists his charges will not be fazed by the prospect of facing the fearsome Rivers United side.

“We have played in the Nationwide League for four seasons now so we are versed with regular competition.

“I know Rivers United is a much bigger club, compared to ours with their players earning bigger money but this is football and such things are really unimportant.

“We have a tradition of producing great players.

“(Manchester City starlet), Kelechi Iheanacho once played for Papilo FC when he was much younger.

“We have about eight or nine potentially world class players who can get to (Iheanacho’s) level with just a little push.

“On Wednesday, we will try to beat Rivers United and we know we can do it,” he said.

Papilo FC have positive memories from last year’s edition of the Federation Cup where they eliminated Gombe United before losing narrowly to FC Taraba.

The Owerri-based side is also blessed with precocious talent like Michael Ebere, Akum Chuks, Osita Onwuchekwa, Chimezie Onyekwere, Chukwuma Kelechi and Kelechi Emmanuel who could ruffle the feathers of United.

The technical manager of United, Stanley Eguma however insists that his players will be taking nothing for granted against Papilo FC on Wednesday.

“We will draft our best players to play against Papilo FC.

“We know they are experienced in the Federation Cup as they defeated Gombe United in last year’s competition.

“They are a hard nut to crack so we are not going to underrate them.

“We have to work hard and strategize in order to get a positive result,” Eguma told Rivers United media.

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