It is first versus third this weekend in the NPFL as league leaders Rivers United travel to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium to face third-placed Enugu Rangers on Sunday at 16:00GMT in a match that could be pivotal in determining whether Rivers Utd close in on the title or they face an upset that could see the ten-point gap closed down to seven with five matches remaining in the season.
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Can Enugu Rangers Get Back to Winning Ways after Two Consecutive Defeats in the League?
Enugu are currently 19 points behind league leaders Rivers Utd, which means they are mathematically out of the title race in the run-in.
However, with second-placed Plateau Utd ten points behind the leaders, Enugu Rangers might have a say on whether the title race tightens in the last six matches.
Enugu Rangers will also be looking to end a poor two-match losing streak in the league when the clash with Rivers Utd on Sunday.
Can Rivers Utd Make Two Wins on the Bounce as they close in on the Title?
The league leaders have lost just once in the last five outings, and they will be looking to maintain this fine run of form when they clash with Enugu Rangers away from home on Sunday.
The focus will be on maintaining or extending their ten-point advantage at the top of the table in the last six matches as they seek to wrap up the title.
Rivers know that three wins will secure the title with matches to spare; starting with the clash at Enugu Rangers, they will focus on getting the points on board to advance their title charge.
Enugu Rangers have been in a stop-start run of form in the league; they have won twice in their last five NPFL outings while losing three times in the process.
They have collected six points while dropping nine in this run; this has seen them drop off from a title charge as a 20-point gap has opened to the league leaders and nine points to second-placed Plateau Utd.
Enugu Rangers’ last two matches against Nasarawa United (1-0) and Abia Warriors (2-0) have ended in defeat and six dropped points. The other defeat in the five-match run came against Plateau United (4-0) in May.
The two matches Enugu Rangers have won in this run have been at home against Dakkada (1-0) and Wikki Tourists (2-1). They have also kept a single clean sheet in this run of five outings.
Rivers Utd have won four out of their last five outings in the NPFL; the other match ended up in defeat as the league leaders have collected 12 points and dropped three in this run.
The defeat came away to Wikki Tourists (1-0), which is the only blemish in an otherwise sterling run of form for Rivers Utd.
The wins in this run include matches against Remo Stars (1-0), Dakkada (3-2), Plateau Utd (2-0), and Abia Warriors (2-1).
Possible Starting Lineups
Bonsu; A. Adubi, I. Nweke, P. Sane, U. Uwadiegwu; S. Abass, S. Asiegbu, T. Issif, U. Ugochukwu; C. Nnaji, C. Eziekwe
Afelokhai; K. Godswill, K. N’gouan, C. Ihunda; P. Acquah, D. Agbekpornu, T. Emekayi, L. Binuyo; M. Ohawume, I. Rafiu, D. Barnabas
Players to Watch
With seven goals in 26 appearances, Nnaji is one of the most potent strikers for Enugu Rangers.
The Nigerian professional offers pace, creative movement, and potent link-up play with other attacking players for the team; he will be crucial for Enugu Rangers’ clash with Rivers on Sunday.
Ishaq Kayode Rafiu
Rafiu has 14 goals and 3 assists in 28 appearances for Rivers Utd. He has been in the starting eleven 85% of the matches and played in 74% of the team’s minutes this season.
His potency in front of goal means that Rafiu will be a crucial presence for Rivers on Sunday as they face Enugu Rangers.
Rivers Utd will take initiative in this clash as they seek to retain their advantage at the top of the table. They will control the tempo of the match through possession and passing.
Enugu Rangers will play mainly on the counter as they seek to cause an upset.
Enugu Rangers will bounce back to winning ways by beating Rivers and prolonging the title race conclusion.
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