Two of the grand football institutions in Nigerian football, Rivers United and Kano Pillars go toe to toe in a special place in a matter of days as the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) enters matchday 21.
The timing could have been better for one of the two sides whose indifferent form hardly lends this credence to their case as regards collecting a creditable result at an extremely difficult place.
However, the permanent class of these two sides lends this fixture substance.
Panache and style, the grandeur of the stage and a sense of occasion which could potentially be near intoxicating on Sunday, February 23, 2020 as the Pride of Rivers go toe to toe against Sai Masu Gida in one of the stand out fixtures of Match Day 21 of this weekend’s NPFL offering.
The size of the task is massive for Sai Masu Gida – no club has managed to defeat Rivers United FC at their own stately patch, the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt, this season but Pillars’ head coach, Ibrahim Musa is confident his charges can force down the bitter pill of defeat down the throat of their ultra-consistent hosts.
“We are well-prepared. We arrive in Port Harcourt with confidence and I am sure we will amass the three maximum points at stake,” Musa told the official Rivers United FC website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
If Kano Pillars are to succeed and pull off a result which no side has managed to do so far this term (defeat Rivers United in Port Harcourt), one-man – club captain, Rabiu Ali – will have to shine like a million stars and play his best game of the season as United are notoriously shrewd, defensively, especially when they play in front of their own supporters.
Ali is not the only man who can hurt the Port Harcourt darlings though.
Joshua Enaholo, on his day, is one of the finest shot-stoppers in the division and has the talent to keep the marauding hosts at bay.
Victor Dennis, Nasiru Sani, Ike Chinedu, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Abdullahi Musa, Auwalu Ali, David Ebuka, home boy, Nwagua Nyima and Dosso Saib whose exquisitely-taken free-kick in the colours of Niger Tornadoes famously knocked Rivers United out of the 2019 AITEO Cup, are also important talent capable of holding sway at any venue.
Pillars are extremely strong on the road. They have lost just three times in ten away fixtures and have the fifth-best away record in the division next season.
Sai Masu Gida has scored in seven of their ten away fixtures this term and have conceded an average of not more than one goal a game, at most, in their away games. Rivers United, however, appear to be in fine fettle.
The Port Harcourt club is still riding the crest of a wave following their gutsy 1-1 draw in Illorin against the Kwara United club matchday 20.
Technical manager, Stanley Eguma knows Pillars will represent sturdy opposition but as always, the experienced trainer is looking to paying attention to the minutest of details as he looks to deliver a positive result for the high-flying hosts.
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“It is a big game, any time, any day. We are not going to underrate Kano Pillars because of their position in the log (Pillars are currently in ninth place while Rivers United sit in third).
“We know that they are a big club in Nigeria so we are going to prepare very well, work on our lapses and pick up the three points which will be very important for us,” he said.