Former Nigeria League champions, Enyimba International, and Enugu Rangers will headline the Match Day 17 games of the Nigeria Professional League that take place across the country on Sunday.
Usually dubbed the ‘Oriental Derby’, the Peoples’ Elephants and the Flying Antelopes will be in battle for crucial points to help improve their fortunes on the NPFL log.
Both clubs have 14 league titles between them – seven apiece. No other team in the country has those numbers in terms of NPFL titles won.
While it has not been the best of starts to the season for Enyimba, it is even worse for Rangers who are surprisingly at the bottom of the table albeit with three games outstanding.
Sunday’s derby clash pitches two coaches that are under severe pressure and who know how vital a derby win can help ease their worries.
Having lost 1-0 at Wikki Tourists in midweek, Enyimba remain in eighth place on the NPFL table with 22 points, eight points behind the high-flying leaders, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries FC.
Rangers also had a disappointing result in their midweek outing; playing a 1-1 draw with Remo Stars in Enugu.
Expectedly, players and officials of both Enyimba and Rangers have been talking tough with both camps predicting they will emerge tops in Sunday’s duel.
Enyimba attacking midfielder, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, has said his side expect one of the toughest oriental derby clashes against Rangers on Sunday.
“We respect Enugu Rangers as champions but I have the conviction that we will claim the whole three points at stake.” Ibenegbu fondly called The Mosquito declared.
For Enyimba Coach, Gbenga Ogunbote, only a win will do.
“It will be a tough match but we are focusing on getting all the three points,” the coach stated.
On his part, Rangers Coach Imama Amapakabo said they are in Calabar for the three points and would stop at nothing to turn around their hitherto poor run.
In other games, Rivers United, another team feeling the heat due to their spate of poor results, will face Gombe United at the Patani Stadium.
The ‘Pride of Rivers’ are yet to win in their last four games in all competitions and the alarm bells are well and truly ringing.
Draws away from home are usually celebrated in the NPFL but the boys from Port Harcourt know that a point on Sunday may not be enough to assuage their fans who are already running out of patience to see a turnaround.
In Lafia, table-toppers MFM FC will be playing against Nasarawa United while Wikki Tourists, the only team without a point on the road, will be traveling to Jos to face Plateau United who are eyeing a return to the number one position on the NPFL Log.
Match Day 17 Fixtures
Abia Warriors v ABS FC
Akwa United v Shooting Stars
El Kanemi Warriors v Kano Pillars
Enyimba v Enugu Rangers
Gombe United v Rivers United FC
Ifeanyi Ubah United v Sunshine Stars
Nasarawa United v MFM FC
Niger Tornadoes v Lobi Stars
Plateau United v Wikki Tourist
Remo Stars v Katsina United