Rivers United will hope to get back to winning ways when they welcome Niger Tornadoes to Port Harcourt today in continuation of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
United have yet to hit expected heights this term even though they boast a near-impeccable record at home after four matches.
‘The Pride of Rivers’ come into the game on the back of a 1-0 reverse against Yobe Desert Stars in Damaturu in their last game.
This means that the Port Harcourt club have yet to score or record a point on the road this term and will now look to bounce back with a solid display against the Minna club, a fact not lost on Rivers United coach, Stanley Eguma.
“We should have got at least a point in Damaturu last Sunday. We played a very disciplined game and we were unfortunate not to score as we hit the post,” Eguma told his club’s official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“Now, we have put that behind us and will be looking to win convincingly (against Tornadoes).”
Rivers United have received a big boost with star winger Emeka Ogbugh returning to first-team training after his time with the Super Eagles at the African Nations Championships (CHAN) in Morocco.
It is still not clear if Ogbugh will play as has not had a single minute of NPFL action under his belt for the Port Harcourt club this season.
Midfielder Emeka Atuloma has yet to resume with the squad after his exertions with the Eagles in Morocco and will definitely not take part in proceedings on Sunday.
Ogbugh, on his part, is happy to return to the fold and took the time to voice his sentiments about this game, which will be played at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.
“It was great representing my country at the CHAN and playing under coach Salisu Yusuf and now the objective is to try and help Rivers United get the win against Niger Tornadoes on Sunday,” he said.
There are no injury worries or suspensions in the United fold so Eguma has a full squad to work with.
Niger Tornadoes team news and set up
The official media outlet of Niger Tornadoes reported on Saturday that “Lukas Yahaya, returns to the match day squad that will face Rivers United in Port-Harcourt after missing some couple of matches since beginning of the new season”.
Tornadoes have endured a largely inauspicious, albeit uncharacteristically tepid start to the season, suffering two home reverses after four games at their adopted home, the Confluence Stadium in Lokoja.
They have surprisingly won once on the road this term and will be looking to claim prestigious scalp in Port Harcourt as they look to escape the dreaded drop zone.
In Erasmus Onuh, Tornadoes have probably the most enigmatic head coach in the division.
The veteran trainer said: “If you talk about expectations, everybody wants to win but I think the best (side) will win (today).
“Any side that plays better will win; that is always what I believe in.
“I will approach the game (against Rivers United) as I approach any other game.”
Onuh favours a 4-1-4-1 formation when the team plays on the road and will likely stick to tested and trusted methods with captain Mustapha Aliko sure to start in goal.
Sunday Akinmoladun, Andrew Ikefe and Rueben Ogbinnaya are the heart and soul of the Tornadoes backline, while Bolaji Adeyemo and Uche Onwuasoanya will look to produce some creative juice when the visitors win possession on Sunday.
Segun Alebiosu knows his way to goal and Eric Frimpong will be dropping in from deep to support the lone striker as Tornadoes look to become the first side to inflict defeat on United at their stately patch in the Garden City.
Game: Rivers United versus Niger Tornadoes
Competition: Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
Match day: Nine (9)
Current positions of respective clubs on the NPFL log: Rivers United: 15th: Niger Tornadoes 17th
Date: Sunday, February 18, 2018
Venue: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt
Time: 4 pm
Form guide (last five NPFL matches)
Rivers United (LWLDL)
Rivers United 0-2 Sunshine Stars (A)
Rivers United 1-1 Enyimba (H)
Rivers United 0-1 Rangers (A)
Rivers United 1-0 Go Round FC (H)
Rivers United 0-1 Yobe Desert Stars (A)
Niger Tornadoes (WLLLL)
Previous meetings (Head-to-head)
Matches: Four (4)
Niger Tornadoes United wins: Two (2) Rivers United wins: Two (2) Draws; Nil (0)
Goals for: Rivers United; Four (4) Goals against: Four (4): Niger Tornadoes: Four (4), Goals against: Four (4)
Points accumulated (in competitive matches):
Rivers United: Six (6); Niger Tornadoes: Six (6)
Details (Specific breakdown) Niger Tornadoes 3-2 Rivers United (NPFL; Confluence Stadium, Lokoja on March 13, 2016)
Rivers United 1-0 Niger Tornadoes (NPFL; Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on July 7, 2016)
Rivers United 1-0 Niger Tornadoes (NPFL; Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on January 22, 2017)
Niger Tornadoes 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL; Confluence Stadium, Lokoja on June 7, 2017)