The 14th day of February the World over is seen as the day of love. couples, Families, friends, associates and even neighbors, show love and care to one another. But this year’s St Valentine’s Day, two big football clubs in Nigeria will be at each others’ necks. They are Two time African Champions Enyimba FC and Rivers United.
Both teams are battling for a place in the group stage of the 2020/2021 CAF Confederations Cup. Enyimba started in the CAF Champions league beating Rahimo FC of Burkina Faso (2-1 on aggregate) but were eliminated in the previous round by El Merrikh SC of Sudan (losing 2-4 on aggregate) and thus had to drop down to the CAF Confederations Cup, while Rivers United started in the CAF Confederations Cup defeating Futoro Kings of Equatorial Guinea (on penalties after 3-3 aggregate) and trashing South African side Bloemfontein Celtics (5-0 on aggregate).
The two neighbors must fight each other for a place in the group stage and it appears that there will be no place for Valentine’s day love.
WHAT MAKES THE MATCH SPECIAL?
This is the first time Enyimba FC will be playing a Nigerian side in the continent, this is also the first time the club Rivers United will be playing a Nigerian side as well (though in 2007 as Dolphins FC they were in the group stage of the CAF Confederations Cup and Played Against Kwara United).
The last time two Nigerian Clubs faced each other in any of the CAF Club Competitions was in 2009 when Heartland FC defeated Kano Pillars 5-0 on aggregate (4-0 & 1-0 home and away respectively) in the semi final of the CAF Champions league.
This match is also a “home coming” for two former Enyimba senior players who were influential in the team’s success in recent years, Theophilus Affelokhai and Ifeanyi Anaemena who joined the Portharcourt based outfit during the off-season.
It’s important to note that both teams have met 8 times (that’s Enyimba vs Rivers United not Dolphins FC) with three wins each and two draws with Enyimba FC scoring 6 times and Rivers United scoring 5 times. The biggest win was Enyimba’s 2-0 victory in Aba back in February 2019 while there have been one scoreless draw back in June 2016 in Enyimba’s then adopted home ground at Umuahia. There has never been an away win in the fixture since The Port Harcourt said took up the name Rivers United. All previous fixtures were in the domestic league (NPFL).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
As has always been customary of the People’s Elephants, Enyimba is blessed with great Players, One of them is the team’s inspirational captain and reliable creative midfielder, Austin Oladapo, who despite returning from an injury layoff was very impressive against Plateau United last weekend. Other players include, solid center back Nelson Ogbonaya and his likely pair for the day, Benin Republic International Nabil Yarou; combative defensive midfielder Anthony Omaka, red hot striker Tosin Omoyele, the unpredictable Gabriel Orok and the highly impressive and tricky winger, Anayo Iwuala.
For Rivers United they have one of the leading scorers in the CAF Confederations Cup, Godwin Aguda who has got 5 Confederations Cup goal and 7 in all competitions. They also have Fortune Omoniwari who has scored 2 goals on the continent. Other stars include Nigeria’s 2014 World Cup Star Kunle Odunlami, Former Enyimba vice captain Ifeanyi Anaemena, Enyimba’s former goalkeeper Theophilus Affelokhai and forward Malachi Ohawume.
As this battle takes place on Sunday, one thing that is for sure is that both teams will be aiming to outwit each other, but if previous records between both sides are anything to go by, one may not be wrong to say the first leg fixture is Enyimba’s game to take, but this is football, and as they say, it is like biscuits, you never know where it will crack.
Fans & observers are likely going to be treated with the best of football as these two are, based on current form, Nigeria’s Best.
The Match will be played at the Enyimba Stadium at 16:00 WAT.