Rivers United captain Festus Austine has said with genuine intent that his club “will compete” for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) title when the new season gets underway this Sunday.
The centre half explained that the club got a real learning curve from their outing last season when they competed on three fronts in the NPFL, the CAF Champions League and later the Confederation Cup and the Aiteo Cup.
He stated that playing on the continent took out a lot of sting in their venom and meant their performance in the domestic championship was watered down.
Austine added that some of the new players also found it difficult to settle down in the team and that brought about some challenges in their campaign last term.
“Yes Rivers United will compete for the NPFL title this season,” Austine said.
“Last season was a difficult time for us, as players and for the club too, in terms of results on the pitch. We, the players, have talked to ourselves this time and have worked hard for the new season and we know the pain that the results of last season caused the club and especially our fans.
“We have worked hard enough in pre-season and we believe that we will be in the haunt for trophies in the season.
“What I want is for the new players to gel into the team because last season, some of them, very good players too, found it hard to fit into the team, and that affected the team. Also, the distraction of the continent last season made us forget that the league is also important and it was through the league that we reached the continent.
“At the latter stages of last season, you could see that we got our acts together and that helped us to survive relegation.” He told npfl.ng.
Austine and his teammates will start their season against the same club they met on the opening day of last season – El-Kanemi Warriors.
The Rivers United captain said they will have to start on a strong and winning note to show their intent for this season.
“We have to win, nothing less than that to make sure we start the season with a win and also strongly,” he said.