It is becoming an all too familiar theme now for Nigeria’s only representative left in any CAF competitions this season to return from trips away from home empty handed.
A 1-0 defeat to Nasarawa United yesterday at the Lafia City stadium followed a similar 2-0 hiding at Katsina United last Thursday. Back-to-back away league defeats have seen the pride of Rivers lose 7 of their 10 league matches played away from the Yakubu Gowon Stadium this season.
Add the three away matches played on the continent this season, it makes for a harrowing experience for everyone connected to the club.
Creditable away draws against Akwa United; FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Wikki Tourists in the league, AS Real Bamako (in CAF Champions League preliminary round) and Rayon Sports (in CAF Confederations Cup) felt like victories at the time, before the morale shattering infamous 0-4 trouncing they suffered in Sudan to exit the Champions League.
Evidence of how low the morale of the team was after that humiliation in Sudan was seen when they tasted defeats at MFM FC and in Calabar against Enyimba.
More transient problems though for Technical Adviser of the side, Stanley Eguma at the moment, is their inability to score on their travels which has been the bane of the side all season in the league.
Just three goals have been scored in thirteen matches in all competitions by the club. Makes one wonder how do they intend to win when you don’t score?
And of course if many have forgotten, their away day no show didn’t start this season. In 18 matches played away from home in the league in the 2015/2016 season they recorded just three away victories. Of course it can only be in the Nigeria Professional Football League where a team who lost 14 times away ends up finishing in second place.
In hindsight now, it is clear to see where the problems lie for Rivers United if they’re to achieve any form of greatness of any sorts.
Perhaps it is time to reintroduce the all too familiar ‘3-match ultimatum’ to Eguma. As it worked wonders when the management of the club opted for that route last season.
With the club set to play two of their first three matches in the group stages of the CAF Confederations Cup away from home, they could be left playing catch up by the time the return legs begin.
Banking on home form as they have done all season (errrmmm…add last season too) won’t be enough for a side that has been heavily invested on by its owners.
With half of Nigeria’s league season gone already, Rivers United are in the relegation zone in 17th place, makes grim viewing for a side touted by many to win the league.