The first instalment of the Oriental Derbies this season will take place this Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium fondly referred to as the Cathedral.
It will be a battle of former champions as Rangers International play host to Enyimba International in one of the Match Day 5 Nigeria Professional Football League games taking place across the country.
Both the Flying Antelopes and the Peoples’ Elephant failed to get the desired results in their midweek games, hence they are expected to come out in full force in Sunday’s derby clash.
While Rangers lost 1-0 in Lagos to MFM, Enyimba were held to a barren draw in their Match Day 4 game.
Already, Coach Usman Abd’Allah has calmed the nerves of Enyimba fans that the lack of victory in their last two games will have no bearing on their performance in Sunday’s crunch derby tie against Rangers.
The People’s Elephant will take the short trip to Enugu, just four days after a goalless draw against Lobi Stars saw them slip to third in group A of the NPFL, and the gaffer is full of optimism on the chances of his side.
“We are hoping for a positive result on Sunday. The boys are motivated, and they know that this match is very important for us. We need the result here and they’ve understood that; that’s why they are working hard.
“We are coming out to work hard and leave the pitch with something in our hands. We can’t afford to leave Enugu with nothing.”
Rangers and Enyimba are arguably the most successful teams in the league, having won seven titles apiece.
Although Abd’Allah acknowledges the bragging rights involved in the fixture, his focus is more on the points at stake.
“The most important thing is to get a good result that will make us comfortable on the table. I’m taking into consideration the importance of this match to the clubs, to the supporters and the region. We are aware of that, but the most important thing is to win.”
In another Match Day 5 game, Rivers United will be playing their first game of the season in Port Harcourt as they host MFM FC.
The Garden City team have recorded two draws in the away games against Niger Tornadoes and Sunshine Stars. According to Rivers United Coach, Stanley Eguma, they are aiming for a big win against the Olukoya Boys.
“We know what to expect. We are not going to try to win 1-0. No, that’s not what we want to do.
“We respect MFM FC, we know it will be a hard match but we want to win comprehensively and put up a show because it is our first game of the season.
“We want to entertain our fans,” Eguma stated.
He added: “It is (going to be) a tricky match because MFM have also done well.
“Most of our players have never played (competitively in Port Harcourt) before so we have to be at our best for us to win that game.
“It is not a game to toy with because MFM have proven that they are a good side,” he said.
MFM currently occupy the top spot in group A of the 2018/19 NPFL season with six points. Rivers United are in sixth place after amassing two points.
Elsewhere, Akwa United still without a victory this season will face Nasarawa United in Lafia while Plateau United will test their might against Kano Pillars.
In Markurdi, CAF Champions League campaigners Lobi Stars will be up against Kwara United while Kada City will be trying to halt the fine run of FC IfeanyiUbah as they battle it out in Kaduna.
One of the Match Day 5 games featuring Go Round FC and El-Kanemi Warriors will hold on Monday.
NPFL Matchday 5 Fixtures
Nasarawa Utd Vs Akwa Utd
Plateau Utd Vs Kano Pillars
Rangers Intl Vs Enyimba FC
Lobi Stars Vs Kwara FC
Yobe Desert Stars Vs Heartland
Kada City Vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah
Abia Warriors Vs Gombe Utd
Wikki Tourists Vs Sunshine Stars
Niger Tornadoes Vs Bendel Insurance
Remo Stars Vs Katsina Utd
Rivers Utd Vs MFM FC
Go Round Vs Elkanemi Warriors
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