Rivers United put their unbeaten run this season on the line on Sunday when they face Niger Tornadoes in Port Harcourt on Matchday 3 of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
United have started the league on a positive note, claiming four points out of a possible six after their first two games of the season.
Tornadoes’ start in stark contrast has been less than exemplary with the Minna club yet to record a win after their first two matches this season.
Head coach of Tornadoes, Abubakar Bala is keen to buck that trend by becoming the first man to lead a side to record a win over United at their storied home patch.
“It is going to be a tough challenge. Rivers United is a very big team; they are representing Nigeria on the continent and we are aware of that.
“We are here (in Port Harcourt) with our match plan at least to get our first points in Port Harcourt.
“We want a win against Rivers United but if we cannot get it, then we will settle for at least a draw,” he said.
Bala will be looking towards the direction of Ebenezer Odeyemi (the only Tornadoes player to have scored a goal this season) to deliver the goods on Sunday.
Captain Mustapha Aliko continues to lead by example at Tornadoes while Ibrahim Babawo, Isah Husseini, Gabriel Jeremiah, Andrew Ikefe, Ibrahim Akide, Ifeanyi Okoye and Solomon Owello provide a solid spine for the Minna club.
United’s technical manager, Stanley Eguma is wary of the threat posed by Tornadoes and says his side will be up for the challenge on Sunday.
“We respect Tornadoes because we know they are coming to Port Harcourt with a very good team.
“We may not have lost any game this season but no one should get carried away because the (Rivers United) team is still work in progress.
“We have a big task in the technical department of the football club because we have many new players who are yet to bond into a unit and embrace our philosophy.
“The work to attain required levels in the football club is ongoing and I know we will get better with more matches played,” he said to the club’s media.
United, unbeaten in their last four league matches, will be keen to record a win on Sunday but Tornadoes will know that defeat at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium will do little to relieve the pressure occasioned by a difficult start to the season.
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE NPFL GAMES)
Rivers United (DWWDL)
Rivers United 0-1 Wikki Tourists (Away)
Rivers United 0-0 Abia Warriors (Home)
Rivers United 2-1 Akwa United (Away)
Rivers United 2-1 El Kanemi Warriors (Home)
Rivers United 1-1 Akwa United (Away)
Niger Tornadoes (DLDWL)
Niger Tornadoes 0-2 Heartland (Away)
Niger Tornadoes 3-1 MFM FC (Home)
Niger Tornadoes 1-1 Kano Pillars (Away)
Niger Tornadoes 0-3 MFM FC (Away)
Niger Tornadoes 1-1 ABS FC (Home)
Previous meetings (Head-to-head)
Niger Tornadoes United wins: Nil
Rivers United wins: One
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)