Rivers United FC have arrived in Kano for arguably their most important game of the current Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season, so far.
The ‘Pride of Rivers’ face a Jigawa Golden Stars side in dire need of a win as they look to hurl themselves out of the lower rungs of the table.
The Stars are currently in 19th place of the 20-team NPFL standings having amassed 13 out of a possible 42 points so far this term.
The permutations from this game are quite straightforward.
Both sides are desperately in need of maximum points for different reasons.
A win for the Stars will see them leave the drop zone as it would mean they could then sit above four clubs, Adamawa United, Nasarawa United, Enyimba International and Enugu Rangers on the log after the end of play.
A win for Nasarawa United United in the day’s other NPFL clash in Lafia will however see than number reduce from four to three but the Stars will still climb out of the drop zone nonetheless as long as they get the win against the high-flying Rivers United side.
On the other hand, a United victory would mean that for the first time this season, the Port Harcourt club will be outright leaders of the division; a lofty accomplishment.
Indeed, so much is at stake as far this one is concerned.
How the Stars play
Jigawa Golden Stars are brisk starters.
The ‘Badaru Boys’ maraud their opponents in search of early goals and rely on a strong backline to keep opposition forwards at bay late on when tired limbs begin to take centre stage.
Head coach, Rabiu Tata favours a conventional 4-4-2 formation with Abdullahi Mallam, Kingsley Innocent and Bilal Yakubu relied upon to make goalscoring contributions.
United will also be wary of rebounds as the hosts scored from two of such situations in their last game at home; a thrilling 3-2 win over the bottom club, Adamawa United on January 12.
Goalkeeper, Suleiman Abdullahi has impressed since replacing former first choice, Kenneth Christopher and he will be looking to keep a clean sheet against United at the Sani Abacha Stadium on Monday.
Alli Kalla and Yusuf Sanni are two other important cogs in the wheel of the Dutse club who will be looking to claim a famous victory over their storied opponents at the Sani Abacha Stadium.
Spokesman of Jigawa Stars, Ahmad Musa believes Monday’s will be a compelling contest.
“We need to win to push ourselves up the table because we are in a position where we need points,” he said.
On his part, Technical Manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma explained that garnering maximum points is non-negotiable for his charges.
“We want to win on Monday and go to the top of the table. That is why we are in Kano,” Eguma told the club’s official website, http://www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
If Eguma’s words are to prove prophetic, then Rivers United will have to do what only two clubs, Plateau United and Akwa United have done this season; condemn Jigawa Stars to defeat at the Sani Abacha Stadium Stadium, Kano.