The Nigerian side was formed about a year ago, following the merger of the two Port-Harcourt-based clubs, Dolphins and Sharks Football, yet Eguma is optimistic about their chances against 109 -year-old El Merreikh, adding the ‘Pride of Rivers’ as the side is commonly referred to by army of fans, will come out in flying colours.
“We are not in this competition just for the fun of it and we are not only looking at the coming fixtures against Merreikh, rather our focus is to win the trophy at the end of the day,” explained Eguma who led the defunct Dolphins to Nigerian version of the FA Cup in 2001.
Eguma said his side is well motivated for the encounter against the Omdurman-based club complete with Nigerian duo of Kunle Odunlami and former Dolphins striker, Kelechi Osunwa.
Below are the excerpts from Eguma’s interview with CAFOnline.com;
CAFOnline.com: How do you fancy your chances against El Merreikh of Sudan?
Stanley Eguma: We know that El Merriekh is a very big team as far as Sudanese football is concerned and are one of the oldest clubs from that region. They have always been a fixture in the continental club championship and are a team with pedigree and we must respect them. We are working very hard to ensure that we go past them. We are working tirelessly so that the players would be in the right frame of mind. On the game proper, we must ensure that we get our tactics right because this is a different ball game because we are meeting a team with different style, orientation and mentality as against what we are used to on the domestic scene.
What does hosting the first leg man to your chances?
We don’t have to worry over the fixtures. It is our resolve to win both at home and when we travel away for the second leg. Football has gone beyond playing at home or away first; it is our responsibility to go out there and give our best performance over the two legs. I believe we are cable of winning both matches. We must be prepared for the two legs as if it’s the final because if we want to be champions of Africa, we must be ready to surmount all oppositions.
Rivers United are playing on the continent, are you not worried about facing an experienced side such as Merreikh?
It is also on record that despite their past showings in the continental championship; El Merreikh has yet to win neither the CAF Champions League nor the CAF Confederation Cup.
Our objective is to play them form in order to eliminate them from the competition. We respect their records but we are not afraid about playing against them.
Are you worried about the presence of Niger-born duo, Kunle Odunlami and Kelechi Osunwa in the Merreikh set up?
This looked like a bit of advantage to them because Kelechi (Osunwa) knows Rivers United very well having played successfully with us here in Port Harcourt before he moved abroad. He knows our mentality so well but all that we count for nothing because we are talking about the team and not individuals. This is a game of football and we just have to put our own acts together.
You were quoted as saying that you are worried about goal drought of your team ahead of your encounter with Merreikh?
This is not a problem peculiar to Rivers United. Most of the clubs in the Nigerian top flight are going through same because you can hardly find some free-scoring strikers as we used to have them in the past. However, this is something we are working on and you can see that we had a high goal-margin win against As Real of Bamako when we beat them here 4-0. I believe we have the players to execute this assignment; part of my job is to ensure that we sharpen the attackers so that they can deliver for the team.