The star match of this week will no doubt be in Port Harcourt where Rivers United host Heartland in a rivalry that has stood the test of time.
Good for Rivers United as they picked vital points on the road in Kano last weekend, but Heartland lost at home 1-0 to MFM so it will be a game of two sides. One of them hoping the consolidate after a result on the road while the other having a point to prove to its fans.
Rivers United v Heartland
The last time the two sides met in the League, it ended in a routine 2-0 win for United.
Emeka Ogbugh and Koffi Roland netted a goal in each half to give United the win in April 2018.
The situation is a whole lot different presently as Heartland (based on their post-season re-enforcements) look stronger and are capable of inflicting damage on any side.
Heartland who have added Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and former Super Eagles Striker Christian Pygbara to their ranks have more experience in the side.
Chijoke Akuneto and Joseph Onoja also joined to beef up the team alongside 16 other new players who look to strengthen the squad.
Heartland, still smarting from the 0-1 reverse suffered in the hands of MFM FC on Match Day One in Okigwe, will be looking to bounce back swiftly by posting a creditable performance and result in Port Harcourt on Sunday.
United are however favourites to claim the win.
The Port Harcourt club look remarkably solid with new arrivals like Fortune Omoniwari, Lookman Binuyo, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Shunji Oshobe, Michael Enaruna, Victor Chidume and Stephen Michael Gopey taking to life at United like a Duck to water.
Mainstays like Festus Austine, Ossy Martins, Malachi Ohawume, Bakary Bamba, Konan N’gouan and Cletus Emotan all did important things on Match Day One and will be looking to go for the kill against the ‘Naze Millionaires’.
United’s influential goalkeeper, Akande Abiodun who has kept clean sheets in his last two league games will be looking to make it three shut outs on the bounce.
Technical manager of the Port Harcourt club, Azunda Stanley Eguma is full of respect for Sunday’s opponents but belives his charges will get the job done.
“We expect a tough game at home,” Eguma told the club’s official website, www.riversunited.com.ng.
“Heartland are rivals that know us very well so we expect a tough game from them.
“We are not afraid. We can contain them and we are going to plan to win because the three points at stake is very important,” he said.
Heartland’s Director of Media and Communications, Solomon Onu, however, believes the Owerri club will not be beaten in Port Harcourt.
“We had our noses bloodied after the last game against MFM. It was a game we dominated but we will correct our mistakes in Port Harcourt on Sunday,” he said.
Usule not under pressure to score for Enyimba
Enyimba Football Club will open their defence of the Nigeria Professional Football League with a matchday two fixture against Katsina United at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium today.
The People’s Elephant were on standby on the season’s opening matchday last weekend owing to the club’s involvement in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Sunday’s fixture at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium offers Enyimba’s in-form striker Martins Usule the chance to make his NPFL debut for Enyimba, interestingly, against his former side.
Having spent five seasons with the Changi Boys, during which he scored forty-four goals, the stocky forward cuts a cult figure among the local fans.
Usule has already netted twice in his last two matches for Enyimba, and the forward expects to meet a favourable atmosphere at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium.
“I am not under pressure to score (because) I know goals come naturally,” Usule began.
“I’m going to expect a very huge atmosphere because I was loved in this place and I know that same spirit will still come up in tomorrow’s game. There is no doubt about that.
“It’s important for us to start on a winning note because there’s a spirit of winning. Once you start a game in a competition with a win, that spirit moves you on; so it’s good for us to start with a win.”
Fresh legs for Rangers
There will be no signs of fatigue when Enugu Rangers take on Adamawa United in their Match Day 2 clash in Gombe on Sunday.
Rangers have been busy in the CAF Confederation Cup, causing them to miss Match Day 1 fixtures but the coach of the side Benedict Ugwu has plans to unleash a different set of younger, fresher payers for the battle of Gombe.
Ugwu said the number of quality players recruited by the club has given him the confidence that his wards can go all the way and be counted among the front runners.
“I strongly believe that with the calibre of players we have, we would challenge effectively for all the competitions we are taking part in.
“Looking ahead to our first league match in Gombe with Adamawa United, it won’t be an easy match but we have what it takes to come out with a great result,” Ugwu said.
“No doubt, the fear among our supporters is understood. The fear that our continental quest may have taken its toll on the players does not hold water as we have fresh legs to perfectly defend our colours. It will be a good start for us in Gombe.”
More than six of the Match Day squad in Gombe would be looking to have their first start in the colours of the ‘Flying Antelopes’ as the coach tries out new formations.
Other Match Day 2 fixtures
Jigawa Golden Stars vs Plateau United
Sunshine Stars vs Warri Wolves
MFM FC vs Ifeanyi Ubah
Akwa Starlets vs Kano Pillars
Akwa United vs Abia Warriors
Lobi Stars vs FC Delta Force
Nasarawa United vs Wikki Tourist