Matchday 2 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is laced with plenty of intriguing fixtures and the contest between Akwa United and Rivers United is certainly one of them.
Uyo’s storied ‘Nest of Champions,’ the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium is the venue for the game which holds on Wednesday, January 18.
The two sides met twice last season in the NPFL with the Pride of Rivers winning both fixtures in Port Harcourt and Uyo, respectively.
Akwa United and Rivers United both started the 2016/17 season in contrasting fashion with the Uyo club surprisingly losing 1-3 to newly-promoted ABS FC in Illorin.
Things were more straightforward for Port Harcourt-based Rivers United as they claimed a 2-1 victory over El-Kanemi Warriors at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.
The stakes are extremely high as the ‘Promise Keepers’ will be eager to get off to a flyer in their first home game of the season particularly after suffering a reverse in Ilorin on Sunday.
Akwa United head coach, Abdul Maikaba has two former Rivers United stars, Aremu Afeez and Ofem Inah in his ranks as he looks to topple the ‘Pride of Rivers’ on Wednesday with the duo almost certain to provide ‘inside information’ about the workings of the Port Harcourt club.
Other personnel that will likely feature for Akwa on Wednesday are Cyril Olisema, Moses Ebiye, Christian Pyagbara and feared marksman, Hassan Babangida.
Maikaba is full of respect for Rivers United but insists his side will amass maximum points on Wednesday.
“We can beat Rivers United by maybe two or three goals to pay them back in their own coin, what they did to us in Uyo last season (when Rivers United won 2-1 on the final day of the 2016 season).
“No doubt, it will be a very good match mainly because of the pre-season enjoyed by Rivers United.
“No club in the NPFL went through that process (of such a well-detailed pre-season exercise enjoyed by Rivers United).
“We will try to get three points against Rivers United on Wednesday,” Maikaba said.
There are no injury worries or suspensions in the Rivers United camp and technical manager, Stanley Eguma has set his sights on a positive performance on Wednesday.
“I have congratulated the boys for the win (against El-Kanemi Warriors on Sunday) even though it was anything but a perfect performance.
“It’s hard to play a perfect game at this stage of the season because there is still a lot of work to do integrating the old players with the new to create a compact unit.
“Now, we must try to get a good result against Akwa United, an excellent team that will have the full backing of their fans.
“It will be a very difficult game and if my players don’t perform to the best of our abilities, I am very sure we will lose,” he said to the club's media.
Rivers United captain, Festus Austin is also expectant of maximum points from the Uyo expedition.
A compelling contest awaits and fireworks are guaranteed at the Nest of Champions.
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE NPFL MATCHES)
Rivers United (WDLWL)
Rivers United 3-1 Warri Wolves (Home)
Rivers United 0-1 Wikki Tourists (Away)
Rivers United 0-0 Abia Warriors (Home)
Rivers United 2-1 Akwa United (Away)
Rivers United 2-1 El Kanemi Warriors (Home)
Akwa United (LLDLW)
Akwa United 3-1 MFM FC (Home)
Akwa United 0-2 FCIU (Away)
Akwa United 2-2 Nasarawa United (Away)
Akwa United 1-2 Rivers United (Home)
Akwa United 1-3 ABS FC (Away)
PREVIOUS MEETINGS (HEAD-TO-HEAD)
Matches: Two (2)
Akwa United wins: 2
Rivers United wins: 2
Details (Specific breakdown)
Rivers United 1-0 Akwa United (NPFL; Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt; May 18, 2016; NPFL)
Akwa United 1-2 Rivers United (Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo. September 2, 2016)