Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma says he expects the Aba fans to throw their weight behind his side when they take on Egyptian outfit Al Masry in the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup playoff clash on Sunday, 28 November 2021.
The Pride of Rivers will face the former Egyptian Cup champions at the Enyimba International stadium after the Confederation of African Football deemed their home ground – the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium – unsuitable for the tie.
Despite expressing some reservations on the switch to the home of their bitter rivals, Eguma stated that he is pleased with the move, adding that he is looking forward to getting ‘maximum support’ from the predominantly Enyimba fans in Aba.
“It is not going to be a problem for us,” the experienced gaffer told www.busybuddiesng.com exclusively. “As long as Aba is in Nigeria, we are playing in Nigeria. And Aba has a good pitch.
“And I think that one would have loved to play in their traditional home in Port Harcourt, but then, it is better to play in Aba than going to play in Egypt, which means we are outside Nigeria.
“Now that CAF has not approved our stadium, for now, I think playing in Aba is not a bad one. And you all know too well that, in the past, when the Aba stadium had a problem, Enyimba played in Port Harcourt and we gave them the support.
“We expect too that as we go to Aba, we are going to equally get maximum support from Aba fans of Enyimba. So, we are not seeing it as an obstacle at all.”
In 2020, Enyimba and Rivers United were locked in a long acrimonious battle to determine the runners-up in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) using the PPG (Points Per Game) metric, with the former getting the decision.
Last season, Eguma’s team finished 6th in the NPFL but were eventually upgraded to 2nd at the expense of Enyimba, after benefitting from a boardroom decision against Jigawa Golden Stars for fielding an ineligible player.
Despite the strained relationship between both sides, the long-serving tactician believes his side will enjoy the support of the Aba fans as their issues belong in the past.
“I think that is a bygone now, we’re all looking forward, more especially as both of us are in the continent representing the country,” the former Enyimba assistant coach said.
“I think we should be expecting an act of fellowship and supportership (from the Enyimba fans). Brotherliness should reign among us.
“And I think that prompted the two-legged friendlies that we played (against Enyimba). We played one in Port Harcourt and also played in Aba recently to cement our cordial relationship.
“I don’t think anything of the past will have to come in to play a role especially now that we are representing Nigeria.”