Two-time African champions, Enyimba, will start off their season in the Glo Premier League at Sunshine Stars after an early exit in the hands of Malian club, AS Real de Bamako in the CAF Champions League.
Sunshine Stars have witnessed a handful of departures in their playing personnel in the off-season.
The Akure Gunners did not have the best of pre-season. Just after losing to a team in Ijebu-Ode, they were involved in a road accident with a handful of their players sustaining injuries.
On the other hand, Enyimba cruised through the Glo Premier League Pre-season Tournament, winning all of their three matches against Bayelsa United, Warri Wolves and Kano Pillars in Abuja in January.
Sunshine Stars have never won Nigeria’s top flight and were just two points short of Dolphins who won the championship in the 2010/11 season. But the Akure Gunners have never lost to Enyimba at home in the Premier League era.
Last season, Sunshine Stars finished a distant 12th position and 10 points behind Enyimba, who missed out on a record seventh title by raking up 62 points to finish second and a point behind defending champions, Kano Pillars.
But it was Sunshine Stars, who ended Enyimba’s ambition of a record seventh league title last season.
Goals from Philip Auta and Nigerian international defender, Kunle Odunlami ensured the Stars put a dent on Enyimba’s dream.
Sunshine Stars appear to always have the edge over Enyimba when playing hosts. A year before the Premier League era started in 2003, Sunshine Stars and Enyimba played out a goalless draw in Akure in January 2002.
But the People’s Elephant won the return fixture in June of same year by a goal. Enyimba also went ahead to win the league that year by four points ahead of second-placed Enugu Rangers while Sunshine Stars finished in seventh position.