Head coach of Akwa United Football Club Ayodeji Ayeni says his target is to hit the ground running with victory this Saturday when his new team will square up against Rivers United on match-day 20 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.

The game which will be the reverse fixture of match-day 19 was rearranged by the league organisers and brought forward from Sunday to Saturday due to logistics reasons and it will kick-start the second stanza of the current 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League season.

Coach Ayeni who officially took charge of the Promise Keepers on Monday after signing a one season contract believes that the quality of players at his disposal are good enough to achieve the needed results that will return the team to winning ways.

My coming to Akwa United is a fresh challenge and a new beginning for me as a coach. I have spent one week with my players and I’m happy with the energy and the hard work we have put into the team within this short period of time.

“For us to have a successful title defense and also secure one of the continental tickets which is our primary target in the remaining 19 matches, we have to hit the ground running starting with this weekend’s game against Rivers United.

“I’m very happy with level of determination I have seen from both the old players and the new ones we have brought in to strengthen the team. The calibre of players we have are capable of winning games and I’m confident that we will have a positive result against Rivers United on Saturday”.

The match against Rivers United will be coach Ayodeji Ayeni’s first competitive game since joining Akwa United last week.

The reigning champions will go into the match-day 20 clash in 6th position having accumulated 27 points from seven wins, six draws with six loses, scoring 16 while conceding 18 goals from 19 first-round matches.

League leaders Rivers United have picked up 12 wins, six draws with one defeat scoring 31 while conceding 9 goals in 19 games.

In the reverse fixture in Port Harcourt on match-day 19, Rivers United recorded 4-1 win over Akwa United while the Promise Keepers enjoyed a 3-0 victory over their South-South neighbours in Uyo last season on their way to winning the league.

In the previous seven meetings in the NPFL, both sides have recorded two wins apiece while three of those encounters ended in draws.

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