King of the midfield is Ifeanyi Onyeali for the Warriors. Industrious, intelligent on the ball and with an eye for the pass, Onyeali is Warriors most consistent player. What he brings to the team is so unique that when he is absent, the team clearly suffers.
Capping all that is an eye for goal, the midfielder has netted four times this season all on away turf. In other words, Ladan Bosso knows the first Warrior on his team sheet especially away from Umuahia is Onyeali.
New signings, Ibe Okoro and Prince Eze, have slotted seamlessly into the Warriors midfield. Enyimba’s engine is Nzube Anaezemba, a player who despite an indifferent start, has got better as the season progressed. Rarely playing in the first stanza, Anaezemba is the midfield maestro for Enyimba.
With the attackers quickly interchanging positions within a game, Anaezemba knows how each of his front men wants the ball and the pace of his balls decide the pace of the attack. Anaezemba is diminutive in stature but gigantic in how much impact he has in games. He has Razak Aliyu beside him and the magical Andrew Abalogu for company.
Enyimba have performed better in terms of keeping alien attacks at bay than their opponents. Uche John who was plucked from Kwara United has formed a formidable partnership with Enyimba skipper, Chinedu Udoji, at the heart of the Enyimba defence.
The Enyimba backline have let in just 14 goals all season; the least in the championship. Abia Warriors, on the other hand, have conceded nine goals more even though they have scored 11 goals more than Enyimba.
Chima Uluocha and Chukwuemeka Nwabalogu have done the job for the Warriors and they have been formidable at home. Markson Ojobo of Enyimba and Mohammed Garba of Abia Warriors, both man the full back positions, for each of the sides and they contribute as much defending as in attack.
Enyimba’s problem in the first round was not far away from the coaching crew. From varying team selections and transitions during games, it was obvious the coaching crew was not sure of what its best 11 was.
The team suffered, games that could have been drawn were lost, (like against Heartland in Owerri) and games that could have been won were drawn (like against Giwa FC at home).
For the Warriors, they installed a manager they felt and believed is one of the best in the league. Bosso was not only given what he wanted, he got a set of players who are ready to bleed on the field for him.
His players play for him, they are hardworking and in every game, they work their socks off. Bosso is loved and respected by the management. He says, get me this player and the club obliges. It is an exciting atmosphere to work in.
Enyimba have turned things around with the appointment of Kadiri Ikhana. The man who successfully led them to the CAF Champions League and has managed a lot of clubs in the country is back in town.
Ikhana is not after interviews or speaking to the press. His business is his players and the next game – the sort of thing Enyimba want. Ikhana brought the missing discipline back. If you are a minute late for training, you will not play. He demands 110% focus in games and if you get injured, you know you will have to fight for your place when you are back. There is a fresh winning mentality in the team now and that is something to dread about this Enyimba side.
Likely Line ups:
Abia Warriors: Gaadi; Garba, Uluocha, Nwabalogu, Obaroakpo, Ofem, Okoro, Onyeali, Chikatara, Onyeudo, Onyekachi
Enyimba: Thomas; Uwadiegwu, Udoji, Uche, Ojobo, Aliyu, Anaezemba, Olabiyi, Udoh, Abalogu, Boumsong
Very tight game but Enyimba should eventually get their pound of flesh. Away victory! 1-2