NPFL Preview: Rivers United versus Plateau United

Knocked out of the Caf Champions League by Sudanese club, Al Merreikh, the ‘Pride of Rivers’ failed to respond in positive fashion as they suffered two morale-shattering reverses in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) to MFM FC and Enyimba International in their next two competitive fixtures.

It does not get any easier for the Port Harcourt club as they play host to leaders, Plateau United on Wednesday in one of the standout fixtures as the NPFL enters match day 16.

Plateau United have surprised many this term with their impressive displays in the division and have amassed 28 out of a possible 45 points after their first 15 league game.

They sit proudly aloft in the NPFL standings and head coach, Kennedy Boboye puts his side’s rip roaring start to the campaign down to ‘hard work and discipline’ but close watchers of the league will readily posit that there may be more to Plateau United’s meteoric rise than those two ingredients.

In terms of personnel, the sum probably accounts for more than the parts at the Jos club but in Dele Ajiboye, Boboye knows he has one of the most flamboyant yet effective goalkeepers in the land.

Elisha Golbe and Joshua Obaje have been outstanding this term, while individuals like Sadeeq Yusuf, Emmanuel Olowo and Ibe Johnson have also thrown their weight about with aplomb this season.

Boboye however expects anything but a straightforward contest against the under-performing Rivers United on Wednesday.

-Rivers United are not pushovers. They are a good team with good players and a good coach.

-We will do our best and try to win the game or pick a point at the very least, he told Rivers United FC official website.

Morale is understandably low in the Rivers United camp but technical manager, Stanley Eguma, a wily gaffer with years of experience under his belt, will be looking to rally his troops.

-We will face a very strong Plateau United team that have been on top of the log for a very long time now.

-We have a lot of respect for them (as they have) done well so far but we (have our backs against the wall) so we have to work above our capacity to get the three points at stake and better our position on the log, he said.

It’s shaping up to be an extremely compelling contest and unbridled excitement is almost guaranteed on Wednesday at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.

Form guide (last five NPFL matches)    

Rivers United FC (LLWDL)  

Rivers United 0-1 Sunshine Stars (A)  

Rivers United 0-0 Wikki Tourists (A) 

Rivers United 1-0 Enugu Rangers (H)   

Rivers United 1-2 MFM FC (A) 

Rivers United 0-1 Enyimba (A)

Plateau United FC (WLWDD)

Plateau United 0-0 Lobi Stars (H)

Plateau United 1-1 Shooting Stars (A)

Plateau United 2-0 Kano Pillars (H)

Plateau United 1-2 MFM FC (A)

Plateau United 4-1 ABS FC (H)

Previous meetings (head-to-head)   

Matches: Two (2)     

Rivers United wins: One (1)    

Plateau United wins: One (1)

Draws; Nil (0)     

Goals for: Rivers United: Three (3); Plateau United: Two (2)

Goals against: Rivers United: Two (2); Plateau United: Three (3)

Points accumulated (in competitive matches): Rivers United: Three (3); Plateau United: Three (3) 

Details (Specific breakdown)

Plateau United 2-1 Rivers United (NPFL. Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos on April 24, 2016).   

Rivers United 2-0 Plateau United (NPFL. Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on August 28, 2016)