Enyimba and Rivers United will battle for the spoils in Aba as they go head to head in a rescheduled Match Day 7 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL clash.
Enyimba will move into second place with a win while United will move up to joint third if they get all three points, something that has not happened since 20o4 when Dolphins won 1-0 in Aba, through a Victor Ezeji goal.
Rivers United have lost just once all season, 1-0 FC Ifeanyiubah on November 17 in Nnewi.
Enyimba’s Austin Oladapo says it will be a tough game.
“IT is going to be a tough one and we know ourselves because we are very close to each other.
I know we will overcome them any way. We played them last season and conquered them so we look forward to the game,” Oladapo said.
For Rivers United, it certainly looks like their toughest test so far this season.
Enyimba are riding the crest of a wave following Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Ivoirian club, San Pedro in the CAF Confederation Cup and head coach of the Aba club, Usman Abdallah expects United to make things ‘difficult’ for his side.
“This is a derby and it is going to be dicey,” Abdallah told the official Rivers United FC website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“They will come here and try to make it difficult for us, as usual but we’ve already known (what they will do) and that is why we have been working hard,” he said.
Enyimba have a fearsome record at home. They have won all (three) games played at the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba this season.
No team have scored more goals (eight) at home than Enyimba this season and the Aba club have won all three games played in the Commercial city this term.
Theophilus Afelokhai is likely to start in goal for Enyimba on Thursday with Daniel Darkwah, Andrew Abalogu, Ifeanyi Anaemena and Rueben Ogbonnaya all favoured to start in a four-man defence.
Oluwadamilare Olatunji and Austin Oladapo are likely to be saddled with the duties of protecting the back four and breaking up the opposition’s play with Stanley Dimgba, Samson Obi and Rueben Bala providing the creative juice and supporting the gangly Victo Mbaoma who will likely operate as the lone man upfront.
Abdallah will have Anayo Iwuala, Cyril Olisema and the dangerous Martins Usule (who scored against San Pedro on Sunday) to call upon should things not go according to script early on.
Rivers United are however extremely solid away from home and have conceded just once on their travels (three matches) this season.
United’s Technical Manager, Stanley Eguma is confident heading into Thursday’s contest.
“Enyimba is always strong especially when they play at home but we recall what happened when we met them in pre-season against them,” Eguma said.
“We dominated against them in Aba and they scored with a penalty in the 1-1 draw while we beat them in Port Harcourt.
“We know this Enyimba team very well and have perfected out tactics for the game,” he said.
United won on their last away trip in the league (against Warri Wolves) and could move into third place with yet another win on the road on Thursday.