Sunshine Stars look to continue dominance over Rivers United

Rivers United and Sunshine Stars return to Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) duties on Wednesday, January 24 when they face each other at the Akure Stadium.

Both sides come into the game on the back of contrasting results from Matchday 3.

Rivers United impressed in their 2-1 victory over four-time champions, Kano Pillars at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt while Sunshine Stars suffered a 0-2 reverse to Nasarawa United at the Lafia Stadium on Sunday.

Sunshine Stars famously defeated Rivers United 1-0 in Port Harcourt the last time both sides faced off in the NPFL last season.

They will be looking to replicate the same feat on home soil on Wednesday particularly after the Lafia misadventure which represented their first defeat of the season.

Sunshine Stars head coach, Duke Udi is well-respected across the land; widely viewed as one of the most progressive young coaches in the country and he spoke to Rivers United’s media ahead of Wednesday’s game.

Sunshine Stars may have defeated Rivers United 1-0 in Port Harcourt the last time the two sides squared up against each other but Udi is keeping that success in the archives.

“The past is past and we don’t think about the past in football. We only talk about the present,” Udi said.

“We are facing Rivers United; they are a great side and we will accord them the same respect that we accord to other teams.

“I know they (Rivers United) want to win but we want to win too,” Udi said.

The ‘Owena Waves’ are not exactly star-studed but have effective performers that can worry any opposition on a given day.

Henry Ayodele is a goalkeeper with a huge physical presence and he commands his defence impressively while ‘captain fantastic,’ Sunday Abe continues to lead in exemplary fashion, on and off the pitch.

Nojeem Raji is as experienced as they come while ‘Olokpa,’ Yusuf Jaiyeola knows the ‘Pride of Rivers’ well having spent the last two seasons at the Port Harcourt club.

Jide Fatokun, Abiodun Joseph, Kehinde Adedipe, Sikiri Alimi and Ezekiel Thompsom all bring freshness and goals to the party in equal fashion.

Rivers United team news

Sunday Rotimi made his first league appearance for the ‘Pride of Rivers’ on Sunday in the 2-1 win against Kano Pillars and will be favoured to start ahead of impressive youngster, Robert Cole who has also been included in the matchday squad.

Striker, Samuel Akinbinu is still sidelined so Eguma will have to make a choice between Elum Sochima and Malachi Ohawume to partner Guy Keumian, the league’s second most prolific marksman, in attack.

Ochowechi Salefu impressed with a spectacular display against Pillars on Sunday and will be favoured to get a look in alongside Prince Aggreh and left back, Chiwendu Ali who made his second start of the season against ‘Sai Masu Gida.’

Eguma was suitably impressed with the application of his charges against Pillars on Sunday but admits that only a similar performance on Wednesday in Akure will fetch rewards.

“We are working ahead of that game (as) we know Akure is a very tough ground,” Eguma said.

“We have a team that can play anywhere in the country and we are trying to build that confidence and instil it in the players that they can win anywhere.

“We want to do better than we did last time and we will try to up our game in Akure and ensure that we come back with the points at stake,” he said.

Rivers United have yet to score or win in their last four matches against Sunshine Stars in all competitions and will need a big performance on Wednesday to buck that trend.