Gombe United - Dolphins Preview: The Desert Scorpions look to banish last weekend's defeat to Sharks
After a disappointing 5-2 loss in Port Harcourt to Sharks, the Desert Scorpions host another team from the Garden City this weekend
By Kolade Oni
Gombe United will hope for another day to grab all three points at the Pantami Stadium when they host last season’s Nigeria Premier League (NPL) winners Dolphins on Sunday.
The team coached by experienced Bernard Ogbe gave an indication that they were out to right the wrongs of the previous term with delectable results both at home and on the road at the beginning of the season.
Supporters of the team think it is their turn to win the League title with their scintillating performances, but they have started churning out bad results and have not recovered from it.
This NPL Week 27 tie against Dolphins will no doubt rank as the star match of the week. When the initial fixture was played at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, Dolphins struggled but still did enough to scoop the three points in a Week 7 clash on February 5, as the game ended 2-1 in their favour.
But this time around, much water has passed under the bridge of both teams. While Dolphins have been blowing hot and cold, the continued slide of the Desert Scorpions is still a surprise to many.
On current form, Dolphins hold the ace owing to Gombe’s embarrassing 5-2 slump in Port Harcourt against Sharks last weekend. Though the team has not hidden the fact that the absence of currently injured Mustapha Babadidi and other off the ball incidents have marred this season’s campaign, it remains to be seen how they will cope with Dolphins who will want to take the three points back to Port-Harcourt.
Coach Ogbe in a chat with Goal.com rued the continuous absence of Babadidi. “Of course we surely missed his services and we are trying all we can to bring him back to action.
"He just started having light training and maybe in two or three weeks from now, he should be rounding off his rehabilitation to join the team again.
"He formed a potent partnership with Sanusi Sani in the first stanza but ever since his injury spells, Sanusi is yet to rediscover his killer instinct in front of goal.
"We are ready for Dolphins. We might have lost 5-2 to Sharks, but it will not happen again.
"My players are ready to make sure that they get the three points. We still have a chance to get a continental ticket and this match is very important for us.
"Dolphins are the defending champions, but I have told my players that there is no room for excuses again."It is three points or nothing and I am sure that we are going to get it," Ogbe said.
Gombe are placed seventh on the league table with 36 points from 25 matches.
A win for them moves them up on the league table.
Dolphins defender Austin Festus noted that they would be going to Sunday’s tie with the resolve to target the three points and regain the two points lost at home to 3SC last weekend.
“We have to get an encouraging result in Gombe because 3SC came to Port-Harcourt to get a draw.
"We need to stay on track by picking away points to augment the ones we lost at home. We are all in shape and those injured are returning to action. We expect a good match and we are not going to be deterred by the expected charged atmosphere at the Pantami Stadium and their fans.
“We are prepared for them because we have ruled out a defeat from this Gombe tie,” the former U-23 international told Goal.com on Saturday morning.
Dolphins are fourth on the log with 39 points from 25 matches but could have easily led the pack if they had taken their chances in their home games with precious points lost to Heartland, Enyimba and 3SC.
The 5-2 defeat in the hands of Sharks in their last match and the erratic fans at Pantami Stadium will no doubt be the focal points when the match kicks off by 4pm on Sunday.
Gombe United 2-1 Dolphins
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