Rivers United return to action on Wednesday after their stunning 1-0 away success over Warri Wolves on match day 15 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
A big win over the Tourists in Port Harcourt could see sixth-placed United go top of the NPFL standings (if other results go their way) for the first time this season.
It seems more of a possibility rather than wishful thinking as all five sides above United on the NPFL log navigate banana-skin road trips on match day 16.
However, claiming the scalp of the visitors will be no easy feat.
In head coach, Abdul Maikaba, Wikki Tourists can boast of a purist, a lover of aesthetic football, whose side play the positive way.
A well-known FC Barcelona fan, Maikaba has instilled the principle of possession based football in his side.
“Our coach (Maikaba) is an FC Barcelona fan. He insists that we keep the ball on the ground and pass it from the back.
“He hates long passes with a passion and wants us to have more possession than our opponents irrespective of where we play,” Tourist striker, Godwin Obaje said to Rivers United Media.
Maikaba has the individuals blessed with the talents to play a possession-based game.
In Emeka Nwabulu, Waziri Christopher, Harrison Madu, Peter Ambrose, Guda Mohammed and striker, Obaje, Maikaba has a solid core of a talented team.
Obaje has turned more than a few heads this term and is the league’s top scorer with eight goals.
“I have not set any target for myself as regards the number of goals I want to score this season.
“All I try to do is contribute my quota, continue scoring the goals and see that I help my team achieve our objectives at the end of the season.
“The good thing about our team is that most of the players have been together for more than two seasons and we understand how our coach wants us to play.
“I personally don’t know anything about Rivers United because I have not watched them play this season,” Obaje said.
Rivers United are slight favourites to win going by their recent form which has seen them win two games on the bounce for only the second time this season.
In Bernard Ovoke, United have probably the league’s most inform attacker (the former Bayelsa United man has scored three goals in his last two games).
United attack with verve and purpose but their strongest point is probably a water-tight defence that has yet to ship in a goal scored by an opposition player at their fortress-the Yakubu Gowon Stadium-venue for Wednesday’s game.
Right back (and auxiliary striker in recent games), Chigozie Ihunda will miss out on the game though as he is yet to recover from a knee injury he sustained in the 1-0 win over Warri Wolves on Sunday.
Ihunda’s absence is one that United’s technical manager, Stanley Eguma has described as a big blow.
“It is a very big blow for us because Ihunda has been a very key member of the team.
“Losing him now is a big problem for us but then, we have other players in the team that can take over.
“We didn’t build the team around any one player. “We will miss Ihunda but it is not going to affect our performance,” Eguma said.
There is however good news across the horizon as strikers, Wilson Andoh and Guy Kueian both return from injury.
Eguma will be looking to mastermind a third consecutive win for his side for only the first time this season with success on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s game between the two sides promises to be an exciting affair full of flair and technique with the stakes as high as can be.
Form guide (last five games)
Rivers United (LWLWW)
Rivers United 1-2 Heartland
Rivers United 1-0 Kano Pillars (H)
Rivers United 1-2 Plateau United (A)
Rivers United 3-1 Enugu Rangers (H)
Rivers United 1-0 Warri Wolves (A)
Wikki Tourists (DLWWW)
Wikki Tourists 1-1 Lobi Stars (A)
Wikki Tourists 0-1 MFM FC (A)
Wikki Tourists 3-0 FCIU (H)
Wikki Tourists 3-0 Giwa FC (A)
Wikki Tourists 2-1 Nasarawa United (H)