Sunshine Stars up for big test against bogey team Nasarawa United
By Idowu Bakare
Nasarawa United will seek to continue to ride their luck when they visit Sunshine Stars on Matchday 23 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Sunday.
Sunshine Stars warmed up for this match with a creditable result last weekend, as they put a defensive masterclass to shut out Rivers United at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
The game ended 0-0 as the Henry Abiodun’s men continued their impressive record of not conceding in 450 minutes against the Pride of Rivers.
The showing will serve as a confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s clash and demonstrates what the team are still capable of without some of their first-team players.
Meanwhile, coach Abiodun remains upbeat that his side will succeed in beating Nasarawa United – despite losing two of their last three home games to the Solid Miners.
“I have confidence in the team and the team has showed that they have confidence in themselves, but it’s going to be a tough test against Nasarawa United,” Abiodun stated.
“It was a great show of character from us to go to Port Harcourt and get a draw, but we are not happy with our position on the log.
“That’s why we all have to work hard to beat Nasarawa United to improve our survival chances.
He added: “I assure the fans that we will do our best to win this game and avoid relegation at the end of the season.”
Sunshine Stars are in 19th place with 25 points from 23 matches.
Nasarawa United returned to winning ways last weekend after coming from a goal down to beat Enyimba 4-3 in Lafia.
Having dropped points at home against Kano Pillars prior to the match, the result was a morale booster.
To further motivate the Solid Miners, they are also near full strength as they prepare to continue their recent run of success against Sunshine.
United have lost just once in seven matches against their hosts, including winning last season’s away fixture by a lone goal.
Another victory would offer Kabiru Dogo’s squad a significant psychological advantage going into subsequent away games.
Nasarawa United sit in 12th place on the NPFL standings with 29 points from 23 games and are yet to pick a point on the road.
STARS TO WATCH
Anthony Omaka: Anthony Omaka is among Sunshine’s best players this season and with the club seeking to avoid relegation, the midfield dynamo must be at his best again on Sunday alongside Sikiru Alimi, Franklin Sasere and maestro, Dayo Ojo.
Najeem Olukokun: Nasarawa United’s top scorer Najeem Olukokun scored his seventh league goal of the season in the 4-3 win over Enyimba last week and coach Dogo will be more than delighted to see him maintain his scoring form. In addition, Olukokun’s header against Plateau United won the VAT Wonder Goal Award for Matchday 21.
FORM GUIDE (LAST SIX GAMES)
16. Sunshine Stars: L D L W L D
12. Nasarawa United: W L W L D W
Bashiru Abdulrahman was the hero for the visitors last season as his 39th minute effort gave Nasarawa United a 1-0 victory over Sunshine Stars in Ijebu-Ode.
HEAD-TO-HEAD (LAST SEVEN MEETINGS)
Nasarawa United have won two of their last three matches away against Sunshine Stars.
21/01/18: Nasarawa 2-0 Sunshine
16/07/17: Sunshine 0-1 Nasarawa
19/02/17 Nasarawa 1-1 Sunshine
16/07/16: Nasarawa 3-0 Sunshine
27/04/16: Sunshine 3-0 Nasarawa
13/09/15: Sunshine 2-3 Nasarawa
17/05/15: Nasarawa United 1-1 Sunshine