Rivers United and Lobi Stars go toe to toe in one of the stand out fixtures in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) which entered match day 19 on Saturday.
Lobi Stars won the reverse fixture 1-0 at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi on May 22.
United have a chance to return to the top of the standings on Sunday if they win against Lobi and other results in the division go their way.
But in Lobi Stars, the ‘Pride of Rivers’ know they will meet an exceptionally gifted side that can cause problems for any football club in the NPFL.
Okiemute Odah, one of the league’s most flamboyant goal keepers around, will always man the sticks with distinction while experienced head, Solomon Kwambe leads Lobi the defence with grace and poise.
It is however in midfield and attack that Lobi have their aces; Sunny Akleche, Patrick Ikeokwu, Moses Bunde, David Tyavkase, Kingsley Eduwo and top scorer, Anthony Okpotu can make opposition defences have a sleepless night or two when they turn up in all their glory.
Assistant coach of Lobi Stars, Evans Ogenyi believes Sunday’s opposition, Rivers United is a good side but identifies their defence their major Achilles heel.
“They have one of the most experienced goal keepers in the league (Sunday Rotimi) however their defenders need to work more.
“It is an area that they have to beef up,” Ogenyi told Rivers United Media.
United’s defence statistically however seems to be their biggest strength so far this season, especially at home where no players from an opposition club has scored against them this season.
The only time United conceded at home this season was against Enugu Rangers and on that occasion, centre half, Gabriel Olalekan put the ball past his goal keeper in fortuitous fashion.
Technical manager of United, Stanley Eguma has an almost complete squad to pick from for the test against Lobi Stars.
“The game against Lobi is a big game and we intend to start the second round well; with a win.
“We are set to pick up maximum points.
“It will be a difficult game and we have to work very hard to pick up all three points,” Eguma said.
If Sunday’s game produces half as much excitement as seen in the reverse fixture in Makurdi last month, then we are in for a treat.
Form guide (Last five matches)
Rivers United (LWLWW)
Rivers United 1-0 Warri Wolves (A)
Rivers United 1- 0 Wikki Tourists (H)
Rivers United 0-1 Abia Warriors (A)
Rivers United 1-0 Akwa United (H)
Rivers United 0-1 Lobi Stars (H)
Lobi Stars (WLLWD)
Lobi Stars 2-2 Lobi Stars (A)
Lobi Stars 1-0 MFM FC (H)
Lobi Stars 1-0 FCIU
Lobi Stars 1-2 Nasarawa United
Lobi Stars 1-0 Rivers United