Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt has been on fire this season. Game after game, the club gave superlative performances, thrashing titleholders and country’s record champions, Akwa United FC and Enyimba respectively.
It is mid-way into the 2021/22 season of the Nigeria Professional Football league (NPFL) and the Pride of Port Harcourt has tenaciously held on at the top of the chart, grabbing 42 points from 19 games so far.
The club has won twelve games, drew six and lost only once by a lone goal from Plateau United’s Akila Jidima, out of the first nineteen games of the season. The club has also so far produced the season’s top two goal scorers in Ishaq Kayode and Chijoke Akuneto with eleven and nine goals respectively.
Some of the key players attributed the success story to hard work and support from Eunisell Limited, its sponsor. Eunisell, West Africa’s largest specialty chemicals and oil and gas productions Solutions Company has consistently sponsored Rivers United FC for over five seasons.
The players said the company’s sponsorship deal has helped the club to channel the right energy and provide necessary resources for players, crew and staff.
The club’s top scorer who doubles as the league’s highest goal scorer so far, Ishaq Kayode on Tuesday said Eunisell’s sponsorship with Rivers United, one of the best in the NPFL, has aided the club and players to dig deep and produce impressive results.
Looking back at the 2022 mid-season performances and last three seasons, he said, “With our performances up till the mid-season, I will say kudos to our sponsor. They have greatly fuelled our energy and the sponsorship has been very helpful to our club. A lot has changed in the last three seasons. There are more sponsorships and supports in the league, and that is helping to promote our league. With Sponsors like Eunisell and the good coordinators we have, we are happy to keep going stronger. The league has improved and that is quite encouraging.”
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Ishaq who joined the top club in 2019 believed that similar sponsorship deals, more supports from corporate organsations for the NPFL and “bringing back the NPFL TV for robust match coverage will go a long way to grow local football league in Nigeria.”
According to Ishaq, what has kept the team going was “ the winning mentality both home and away, and it helped us a lot. We saw all our matches like the final that we must win, and we worked as a team.”
He pledged that the team will fight hard for the league cup and go all the way to the continental championships to make fans and stakeholders proud.
He added that officiating has improved remarkably and that has encouraged players to go all out for results.
“Refereeing has been better and helped to improve the league a lot, because they let us know that we can win both away and home games now” he remarked.
Speaking in the same vein, Rivers United FC captain, Austin Festus, said the Eunisell sponsorship of Rivers United for over five years has boosted the game and players psyche.
“The sponsorship of Rivers United by Eunisell has been a great boost. Kudos to the company. Seeing Eunisell in front of our jersey is quite encouraging and we need more of this to improve the league.”
“As captain, I’m also very impressed with the Eunisell Boot Award which gives N200,000 premium per goal to the league’s highest goal scorer at the end of the season. This makes us look forward to the reward every season and engineers a good sense of competition among players,” the skipper added.
Festus who has played for sixteen years professionally in the NPFL noted that the league has improved significantly in the last few seasons in terms of officiating, quality of game and players, international invitations as well as players welfare.
In his reaction, Chika Ikenga, Eunisell’s managing director, expressed excitement over the club’s mid-season performance and urged them to go all the way to make fans proud at the end of the season.
“As a partner, we are glad about the club’s doggedness and impressive mid-season results. We encourage them to keep the rich vein of form running as long as they can.
“Eunisell believes that we can fashion out a partnership with Rivers United and become a winning team and that is why we have stayed with them for the long haul,” he noted.