Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) action returns this weekend and one of the most intriguing fixtures comes up in Port Harcourt.
The two sets of gladiators will wear the strips of Rivers United FC and El Kanemi Warriors and the Arena is the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
Even though the losers will not be literally sent to the Mines, the stakes are quite high and a feisty, well-fought battle is expected.
United go into the game in fine form and extremely high on confidence after a near-perfect pre-season which included a training tour to Spain and culminated in success in the NPFL 4 in Enugu.
Technical manager of United, Stanley Eguma is upbeat about his side’s chances in Sunday’s game against the Maiduguri club.
“We have respect for El Kanemi Warriors. They are one of the traditional clubs in the country.
“It will be an interesting game because I know they will want to create an upset but I know we will be ready for the game.
“We have worked very hard in pre-season and now we will try to replicate everything we have worked on in the competitive matches.
“I believe our preparations will be enough to give us the victory but there will be no talk of underrating the Warriors,” Eguma told the club’s official website, http://www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
The two sides met on two occasions with identical results which saw the sides playing at home winning by a solitary goal.
El Kanemi’s win in Maiduguri on August 6, 2016 was particularly stunning as United were flying at that stage and furiously snapping at the heels of Enugu Rangers at the summit of the log.
Ladan Bosso, the head coach of the Warriors had stated before the game that United would suffer defeat and so it proved even with the ‘Pride of Rivers’ dominating the game in Maiduguri.
Sunday’s game promises to be quite intriguing with the Port Harcourt club keen to start the season on a high against a plucky El Kanemi side that will certainly give them a thing or two to think about.
Form guide (last five NPFL matches)
Rivers United (WDLWL)
Rivers United 0-4 Enugu Rangers (Away)
Rivers United 3-1 Warri Wolves (Home)
Rivers United 0-1 Wikki Tourists (Away)
Rivers United 0-0 Abia Warriors (Home)
Rivers United 2-1 Akwa United (Away)
El Kanemi Warriors (LWLWW)
El Kanemi Warriors 2-0 Niger Tornadoes (Home)
El Kanemi Warriors 1-0 Heartland (Home)
El Kanemi Warriors 0-1 Kano Pillars (Away)
El Kanemi Warriors 1-0 Plateau United (Home)
El Kanemi Warriors 0-4 Enugu Rangers (Away)
Previous meetings (Head-to-head)
Matches: Two (2)
Rivers United wins: One (1)
El Kanemi Warriors wins; One (1)
Details (Specific breakdown)
Rivers United 1-0 El Kanemi Warriors (Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt; April 6, 2016; NPFL)
El Kanemi Warriors 1-0 Rivers United (El Kanemi Stadium, Maiduguri)