Bitter rivals go to war in Benin City
Delta Queens and Rivers Angels will take to the battle field in the South-South derby which promises to be electrifying on Monday.
The Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) Super 4 matchday 1 encounter will take place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Edo State.
The ladies from Kwale had it tough in the first stanza of the regular season but made a terrific surge in the second round and qualified for the competition by topping Group B with 23 points from 14 games.
As for the Jewel of Rivers, there are few words that could be used to describe their success over the years. They have continued to be indisputably consistent.
Both teams will be working on each other’s weak-points rather than focusing on their own strengths.
Delta Queens’ predicted starting line-up: Rita Akarekor, Bukola Ogunnoiki, Lilian Cole, Joy Jegede (c), Margaret Etim, Ogechi Ukwuoma, Amerat Adebisi, Eluemonor Ijeh, Ijeoma Obi, Maryann Ezenagu, Rosemary Okezie
Delta Queens completely rely on their front-line, and judging by the names mentioned in that line-up, you can’t blame them. They tend to play a solid (4-3-3) and use their midfielders as transitional distractions for the wingers. Uju consistently makes the run-ins which, at times, forces a (4-2-4) when they go on full force.
Now Delta Queens may not be the best team in terms of distribution of talent among each position, but they are extremely flexible and could play via aerial balls, possession, and flank penetration. They have two dangerous forwards on the wings (Obi and Ezenagu), and even-though they aren’t fully established as wingers, they definitely cause enough offensive impact. That over-whelming consistency of attacks on the wings could tire any back-line, let alone Ifeoma Ikenokwalu and the attack-minded Effiom Mabel.
Clifford Chukwuma’s wards will be looking to counter at a blistering rate and break Rivers Angels’ weary offside trap. Their weak point will be losing the ball upfront, and if the ball is automatically converted to either of the flanks, then Delta Queens might just see themselves playing a 3v3 battle upfront; that could just be enough to score a goal or two. As for their back-line, it needs to be as compact as ever, and the offensive Cole needs to control her runs upfront because any misinterpretation could lead to a through pass which eventually leads to an easy tap-in.
Rivers Angels predicted line-up: Tochukwu Oluehi (c), Ifeoma Ikenokwalu, Effiom Mabel, Onyinyechi Ohadugha, Uju Joseph, Gladys Akpa, Cecilia Nku, Rafiat Sule, Alice Ogebe, Patience Kalu, Amarachi Orjinma
Those doubting the quality of Rivers Angels got a tip of the ice berg when they thumped Bayelsa Queens 4-0 in the second leg, semi final of the 2017 Aiteo Cup.
The reigning league champions will rely on Tochukwu Oluehi behind the sticks. Onyinyechi Ohadugha will compliment Cecilia Nku in the southern part of the midfield.
Judging by the offensive brilliance that Delta Queens possesses, it will be most probable that Rivers Angels will play a double-pivot of Ohadugha-Nku and play a (4-2-3-1). This gives the Port Harcourt outfit an easier task of getting the ball behind the midfielders, in addition to adding a pinch of defensive solidity to secure the back-line from any sudden counters plus adding possession to the table.
Coach Edwin Okon might be looking to switch up the positions and keep a bit of pace at the same time. Alice Ogebe might be the right solution for that equation. Rivers Angels will be looking to do the usual, keep the ball and eventually find spaces. Delta Queens will definitely add the pressure and try to dispossess them in-hope of finding that one counter. Effiom Mabel should be alert at all times and continuously look for spaces behind the midfield to make those run ins. The more spontaneous Rivers Angels get, the better.
Head to head (Last five league games)
Rivers Angels 0-3 Delta Queens 27th November, 2012
Delta Queens 1-1 Rivers Angels 1st March, 2014
Rivers Angels 2-0 Delta Queens 20th August, 2014
Rivers Angels 3-0 Delta Queens 2nd July, 2016
Delta Queens 2-1 Rivers Angels 22nd October, 2016
This game should be a joy to watch; one being because they are two enormous squads with talent leaking from both sides of the pitch, and second because both play beautiful offensive football.
We will not give any predictions regarding the outcome of the game, but we still see this game ending up with a few goals and hopefully an entertaining 90 minutes for the fans.
Kickoff is at 4pm on Monday.
My name is Ademetan Abayomi Olabode, a women football writer and blogger.
I cover events regarding the Nigeria Women Football League and the national teams.