BY SAMMY WEJINYA.
Players and officials of Rivers United FC return to domestic competition after the heart-rending disappointment of failure in the CAF Champions League.
United was outclassed in Sudan last Saturday by Al-Merreikh in the second leg of their first round tie in Omdurman.
Many expected the Pride of Rivers to progress to the group stage of the competition especially after they recorded a majestic 3-0 victory in the first leg in Port Harcourt but a humbling 4-0 reverse brought Eguma Stanley’s men down to earth.
The beautiful thing about football is that the games come thick and fast and vanquished sides usually have a quick chance to gun for redemption in rapid fashion.
United have that opportunity for a reprieve on Wednesday but anything other than a five-star performance in their rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game against MFM is likely to end in tears as the Lagos club currently represents one of the most exciting propositions in the division.
In Sikiri Olatunbosun and Chukwuka Onuwa, the hosts possess magicians who can unlock any defence in the land with piercing passes of exquisite quality.
Stephen Odey is the name on everybody’s lips; the attacker has netted an extraordinary 10 goals in 13 matches.
The young attacker is the first player to notch up double figures this term and is responsible for 56% percent of all of his side’s goals in the NPFL (18) this season.
Leaving him in acres of space in the final third of the pitch is tantamount to sitting on a keg of gun powder and United’s defenders know he will need no second invitation to leave pain and gnashing of teeth in his wake.
Odey’s goals have come mostly through the same supply channel, Olatunbosun, who has provided assists for four of Odey’s goals this season which represents the best player-to-player combination for goals this term.
Odey spoke to the official Rivers United website on his purple patch and rich vein of form insisting he will keep his feet firmly on the ground.
“I never believed I would have scored as many as 10 goals this season but I prepared well for the season and got good advice from my elder brother, John.
“We will not tale about what we (MFM) want to achieve now until the end of the season,” Odey told www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
Rivers United’s troops are crest-fallen following the unfortunate expedition to Omdurman at the weekend and need a quick response to reassure the teeming faithful of the Pride of Rivers.
Chief coach of United, Willy Udube says defeat is clearly not on the cards from the perspective of the Port Harcourt club.
“We have to get something in Lagos as a result of our position on the table,” he said. United currently occupies 17th spot on the NPFL standings with 14 points from 10 matches while MFM is in second place on the log with 24 points from 13 matches.