Stanley Eguma is unsure of his choice of personnel and tactics for Sunday’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clash with Warri Wolves.
The Rivers United technical manager masterminded a stunning 3-1 success over the NPFL leaders, Enugu Rangers in Port Harcourt with a depleted frontline.
Guy Kuemian, Wilson Andoh and the club’s top scorer, Chinonso Okonkwo all missed out on the win against the Flying Antelopes forcing Eguma to make drastic changes to his tactics and personnel.
The experienced trainer jettisoned his usual 4-4-2 formation and went for a 4-3-2-1 formation with right back, Chigozie Ihunda drafted in at the tipoff the spear.
It culminated in United’s most devastating performance of the season as three goals inside the opening 45 minutes left the Flying Antelopes shell-shocked.
“I still have not decided on what I will do on Sunday as far as the eleven who will start and the tactics we will adopt against Warri Wolves is concerned.
“I now have a good headache but I will wait until our last training session before I make any decision,” he remarked.
He then took the time to look ahead to Sunday’s game against Wolves, a side that finished in second place in the NPFL last season.
“We go to Warri for a big game with the objective of securing all three points at stake.
“We have been getting the points at home but it is now time for us to start getting the points away from home.
“It is important to stay at the top half of the table but to do that, we must pick up something in Warri,” he said.
Ihunda providing the X-factor
Rivers United fans were stunned on Sunday when Eguma released his team sheet for the game against Rangers with Ihunda saddled with the responsibility of playing as the main striker.
It looked a weird decision as the player had made the right back position his own all season.
In the ninth minute of the game against Rangers, Ihunda came face to face with the Rangers goalkeeper, Emmanuel Daniel and the stadium held its collective breath.
Ihunda opted to chip the goalkeeper but produced a feeble effort which went wide.
The groans of the fans could have easily seen the auxiliary forward retract into his shell but he recovered from that bad miss to produce a masterclass for the rest of the game.
He won a penalty (which led to his side’s first goal) five minutes later and worried the Okey Odita-led defence to no end as United closed out an emphatic victory.
“I am not worried about playing as a striker. Our captain (Festus Austin) told me a few days before we faced Rangers that I would be playing as a striker.
“I was calm and prepared for the game. I knew I could do it.
“When I was younger, I played in all positions so I was not really worried about playing as a striker against Rangers,” he said.
Eguma has also hinted that Ihunda could again lead the line against Wolves on Sunday following his sparkling displays against Rangers.
Team news and player updates
Big defender Joseph Douhadji is still out with illness and will definitely sit out the game against Rangers.
There is happier news to report though as Ivoirian striker, Kuemian commenced training this week after recovering from a strain of the left quadriceps.
He suffered the strain in Owerri on April 10 when United lost 1-2 to Heartland.
Ghanaian attacker, Andoh has also resumed training following the knee injury he sustained in Jos as United lost 1-2 to Plateau United on April 24.
Top scorer, Okonkwo is back and available for selection after sitting out the win over Rangers as a result of suspension having received five yellow cards so far this season.
Eguma however says he does not know who will play on Sunday.
“The team is looking sharp and injured players are recovering from injury.
“It’s good headache for a coach to have but like I said, we will have to wait till the last training session to decide on who plays and who sits on the bench,” he said.
Rivers United currently occupies seventh place in the NPFL standings with 22 points from 14 games while Wolves are in ninth with 19 points from 13 games.