Matchday 14 preview: Lobi Stars vs Rivers United

Rivers United return to Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) action for the first time since March 11 when they face Lobi Stars on Sunday in Makurdi.

Lobi Stars currently top the NPFL standings and go into the fixture as overwhelming favourites to nick a win over the Pride of Rivers.

Lobi Stars head coach, Solomon Ogbeide is also sure to receive useful tips on the inner workings of Rivers United from three former players of the Port Harcourt club, Aliassou Sanou, Esosa Igbinoba and Ayo Saka, now in the books of the Makurdi club.

Ogbeide will however be deprived of the services of his efficient marksman, Anthony Okpotu who is serving a three-match ban following the red card he picked up in the 1-2 defeat at Nasarawa United on Matchday 13.

In Okpotu’s absence, Samad Kadiri will be expected to lead the line and Ogbeide claims Okpotu will not be missed.

“My other players are not robots and Okpotu has played just two matches for us in 2018 so we will cope,” he told Rivers United media.

Rivers United goalkeeper Rotimi Sunday serves the second of his three-match ban following his dismissal against FC Ifeanyiubah in Port Harcourt on March 4 and will not play on Sunday.

Club captain of the Port Harcourt side, Festus Austine returns to the matchday squad after missing United’s last game against Wikki Tourists in Jos while Emeka Atuloma and Emeka Ogbugh have also made the trip to Makurdi and are available for selection.

Ogbugh and Atuloma (who has yet to complete a single minute of competitive action for United this term) both missed out on the 0-3 reverse to Wikki in Jos.

Robert Cole who is expected to start in goal on Sunday in the absence of Rotimi believes United can get a positive result at the Aper Aku Stadium.

“We are prepared for this game on Sunday and we are quite positive of the outcome,” he said.

United have lost on their last two visits to Makurdi with Nanen Imenger scoring a late winner the last time the two sides went toe to toe at the Aper Aku Stadium on June 16, 2017.