The Big Game: Abia Warriors vs Enyimba
It arguably is the biggest game of the season for the both teams. Two brothers from the same womb and a game which has more than just the three points at stake.
It is Abia Warriors versus Enyimba International, two teams in the same state and separated by approximately 45 minutes.
One can look at both teams and tell that both are a fair reflection of their host cities. Enyimba are as emphatic and noisy as Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State and one of the leading viable cities in the country.
Umuahia, on the other hand, is the state capital, almost quiet, but effectual and indispensable.
The reverse fixture early in the season saw the Umuahia side currently in their debut season in the Glo Premier League did what no other team has done so far this season – get all three points off Enyimba in Aba.
It was a result from another world and another time because between then and now, a lot has changed in both camps. To say that the result came at a very bad time for Enyimba is to put it mildly, only less than a month prior, Enyimba had been knocked out of the CAF Champions League.
For Warriors, it was a phenomenal result for them and they, of course, announced their arrival at the biggest of stages in Nigerian football.
While the Warriors soared higher and higher up the table, Enyimba stuttered and the former ended the first stanza in third place, two places higher than their ‘elder brother.’ That is the story of the first half of the season because as I said earlier, a lot has changed albeit positively for the both teams.
Warriors were not without problems of their own early in the season. They were always guilty of starting games late. For many games, they would concede first and then spend the rest of the game trying to salvage something out of the game. However as the season wore on, they improved on that front especially in home games.
Enyimba went back in time to lure the man who led them to their first ever continental trophy- Kadiri Ikhana. Eight games with Ikhana at the helm, Enyimba have won six, drawn one and lost just one game. Warriors too have not waned; in fact they picked up from where they ended and are now four points off the league leaders, Kano Pillars.
Both sides boast of some of the best and most hardworking players in the country. Enyimba have more expensive and flamboyant players but their opponents have less known but very hardworking ones.
In fact, Warriors have four of Enyimba ‘rejects’ in their books. Enyimba will be on the lookout for the best in the country knowing they have the financial muscles to acquire them.
Warriors are more prudent; a team making their debut in the league might not match the big boys in terms of signing the biggest names but they have a hardworking side that have absolute confidence and trust in the manager.
In attack, Peter Onyekachi has been phenomenal this season for the Warriors notching up eight goals in the league so far. Enyimba more than match that too with Akwa Ibom-born striker, Mfon Udoh who has netted nine league goals. The two are dissimilar in build and playing technique but are always the biggest headaches for opposing managers and between now and the end of the season will have their names grace chalkboards all across the country.