Battle Against Relegation in Akure
After the drama of last week that threatened the possibility of Sunshine Stars versus Rivers United Match Day 10 fixtures, it is now certain the duel goes ahead as the host team has called off the threat to forfeit the match.
Rivers United’s media officer, Sammy Wejinya previews that Sunshine Stars and his team will be the two sides that will go head to head in search of crucial points as they seek to leave the wrong end of the table.
“The Stars are currently in the relegation zone and United are not too far away from the murky waters either.
“Sunshine Stars have not won an NPFL game in their last five attempts with their last victory recorded over a month ago, specifically on January 25 against Kano Pillars in Akure.”
Sunshine Stars’ build up to this game has been anything but straightforward with players of the football club embarking on protests in the week to press home demands over the non-payment of their financial entitlements.
Head coach of the Akure club, Kayode Olujohungbe however insists his plans for the game against United went according to script and predicts an easy win on Sunday.
“My boys never went on strike this week. They merely went on protests.
“Each time they went on those protests under their captain, Abe Sunday, they sought for our permission.
“We could not stop them (from protesting) because they need to get the monies owed them.
“They never missed training and we are ready for the game on Sunday.
“Rivers United is a very strong side but the statistics show that they don’t usually pose much problems for us when they play in Akure.
“Last season, we took four points off them in the league and I see something similar happening again this season,” Olujohungbe said to the Rivers United official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
Olujohungbe will choose between two exceptional goal keepers, Henry Ayodele and Olorunleke Ojo for Sunday’s game while Kehinde Adedipe, Ambrose Onyema, Kelechi Ogoh and Nojeem Raji will be favourites to start in defence for the Owena Whales.
Sikiru Alimi, Samad Kadiri and Oke Oghagotewho are other important personnel Olujohungbe will be relying on to deliver the goods against the Pride of Rivers who have the odds heavily stacked against them.
United’s form domestically has been patchy. The Port Harcourt club have never beaten or scored against Sunshine Stars and are winless in their last four NPFL games.
United were beaten 1-0 the last time they visited Akure with veteran, Dele Olorundare firing in a peach of a free kick which left Sunday Rotimi with no chance.
Technical manager of the Port Harcourt club, Stanley Eguma remembers that defeat vividly and knows his charges will have to be up for the challenge on Sunday to avoid a repeat of last season’s reverse.
“Sunshine Stars have a good team and we respect them a lot.
“We know we have to be strong as a team and try to take our chances when we get them,” he said.
Form guide (last five NFL matches)
Sunshine Stars: Lost; Lost; Draw; Draw; Draw
Sunshine Stars 0-2 Gombe United (A)
Sunshine Stars 0-1 MFM FC (H)
Sunshine Stars 1-1 Abia Warriors (A)
Sunshine Stars 2-2 ABS FC (H)
Sunshine Stars 1-1 Nasarawa United (A)
Rivers United: Win; Draw; Draw; Lost; Draw
Rivers United 1-0 Niger Tornadoes (H)
Rivers United 0-0 FC Ifeanyiubah (A)
Rivers United 0-0 Lobi Stars (H)
Rivers United 1-2 Shooting Stars (A)
Rivers United 1-1 Kano Pillars (H)
Previous meetings in competitive matches (Head-to-head)
Matches: Two (2)
Sunshine Stars wins: One (1)
Rivers United wins: Nil (0)
Draws; One (1)
Goals for: Sunshine Stars (1); Rivers United (0)
Goals against: Sunshine Stars (0); Rivers United (1)
Points accumulated: Sunshine Stars (4); Rivers United (1)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Rivers United 0-0 Sunshine Stars (NPFL: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on March 23, 2016).
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL: Akure Township Stadium on July 23, 2016).
Story: Courtesy Sammy Wejinya