Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma has heaped the blame on his players after they were handed an embarrassing 4-1 thrashing by Lobi Stars in a Match Day 17 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) encounter in Markurdi on Sunday.
Douglas Achiv headed Lobi in front after just 3 minutes, with former Rivers United striker Ossy Martins adding the second three minutes after the break.
Samuel Matthias made it 3-0 on 69 minutes, before Eguma’s men pulled one back 10 minutes later through Fortune Omoniwari. Martins grabbed his brace 7 minutes from time to hand the Makurdi side a comprehensive victory against the Pride of Rivers, which moved them up to 7th on the standings, with 25 points from 16 matches, a point and a place behind the Port Harcourt side.
While expressing disappointment with the result, the long-serving tactician attributed the heavy defeat to some defensive blunders and tiredness on the part of his players.
“I’m disappointed with the whole game because we didn’t replicate what we planned for in the game,” he said.
“The first goal that came in was against the run of play because the players have barely settled down, and I saw it as a defensive mistake before the ball was headed into the net. And I expected the players to wake up from then; correct those mistakes, which they almost did till the end of first half.
“The second half was a different ball game, we were about to settle down before we conceded the second goal. And I felt that my players showed a lot of tiredness and they were not quick in their approaches. So, it affected them.”
However, Eguma said the result could have been different if not for his side’s fixture congestion. Rivers United hosted MFM in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, while Lobi Stars were off duty as their opponents Enyimba travelled to South Africa to face Orlando Pirates in the CAF Confederation Cup same day.
“I feel that we should have done better if not for the rigorous pile of games that we have played so far,” he added.
“After playing on Wednesday (against MFM), then coming to play this weekend. Lobi did not play midweek game. I think they rested more. I think they were fitter and stronger than our boys.
“But that wouldn’t have warranted those goals. Those goals were goals we would have been able to avert, especially, the mix-up between the defenders and the goalkeeper.”