Venue: Pantami Stadium, Gombe
Kick off: 4PM
This is the most trying period in the history of Rivers United FC as Technical Manager, Stanley Eguma, is currently serving a one-match suspension while results on the pitch have been far from positive.
The ‘Pride of Rivers’ have yet to win in their last four games in all competitions and the alarm bells are well and truly ringing.
Today, stars of the Port Harcourt club will attempt to hit positive notes when they file out against Gombe United at the Pantami Stadium, Gombe as the Nigeria Professional Football League enters match day 17.
Draws away from home are usually celebrated in the NPFL, but the boys from Port Harcourt know that a point today may not be enough to assuage the smitten emotions of the teeming faithful.
Head coach of Rivers United, Willy Udube, knows this well and acknowledges that while a win in Gombe would be extremely difficult, it is a possibility his charges will be looking to exploit.
Udube said: “The technical manager (Eguma) was given a one-match suspension but we have been able to steady (the ship) by making the players understand that (such things) can always happen in football.
“It has happened and we have to move on.
“We want to get all three points (against Gombe United) but football is not mathematics.
“I strongly believe that we will go home with something to make our fans happy.
“As I am talking to you now, the spirit is very very high.”
Saying the right things before big games is almost a pre-requisite for trainers, but beating Gombe United at the Pantami is easier said than done.
There are no star turns at Gombe United as experienced tactician, Manu Garba, the club’s technical supremo, is known to prefer graft over the spectacular.
Alhassan Yusuf, Maurice Chigozie, Akeem Balogun, Isaac Giwa, Bilya Yarma, Idris Bakare, Mannir Ubale and Sadiq Shuaibu are not names that easily roll off the tongue but wily gaffer, Garba, has integrated these unheralded talent into an almost impregnable and extremely-cohesive unit.
Garba’s assistant, Hassan Abubakar, is ultra-confident in his side’s chances of securing maximum points against last season’s NPFL runners up.
Abubakar said: “I know we will win because we have prepared very well for this game against Rivers United.
“They may not be doing too well this season but they are a good team with very good players.
“We drew our last game away from home against ABS FC so confidence is very high amongst our players.”
The newly-promoted Gombe United will be keen to avoid any slip ups to prevent the drama of a relegation dogfight in the coming days while Rivers United know that defeat is almost non-negotiable.
A compelling and intriguing contest awaits today.