Abia Derby: Enyimba Pips Abia Warriors in Aba
The Nigeria Professional League biggest Derby match took place at the Enyimba International Stadium yesterday as ‘The Elephants’ trade tackles with Abia Warriors of Umuahia in one of Matchday 19 fixtures played on Sunday.
The Abia Derby has grown to be the biggest Derby game in the NPFL as the epic encounter between the two clubs exhibits the best of football artistry, Skills, crunch tackles, goals and the game yesterday lived up to its billing.
The Derby match which had over thousands of fans and notable Abia State government officials in attendance kicked off on a high momentum as the both teams huffed and puffed at each other from the blast of the kick off whistle.
The Umuahia Warlords would have broken the deadlock in the early minutes of the game but Enyimba Goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai was alive to his duties as he pulled a world class save to deny Okon Otop his goal bound effort in a one on one situation.
The home side grew in confidence as the game advanced and came close to record what could have been the curtain raiser, all thanks to Abia Warriors goalie Elkanah Godgift who came off his line to deny former teammate Obi Samson his chance.
The highly action and suspense filled game saw Enyimba right full back Okorom Stanley substituted and was replaced by Emeka Atulomah.
Both side seemed contented sizeing each other in the middle as they try to win in the possession of the game as the battle turned a fierce one between Abia Warriors midfielders and Enyimba duo of Cryil Olisema and Austin Oladapo.
The Umuahia Warlords could have got punished for a minute of lost of concentration as Enyimba talisman Abdurahman Bashir stole the ball from the feet of Parfait Jean and did well to put up a square play but none of his teammates were able to connect the cross.
Abia Warriors attacking duo of Bello Lukman and Okon Otop gave the home team defenders a run for their money as they kept them on their toes.
Okon Otop forced Goalkeeper Theophilus to a double save as the half time break beckoned as he rightly positioned himself in between two Enyimba defenders to shoot at goal.
Mercurial midfielder Austin Oladepo gave the People Elephant the much anticipated lead as he hit hard his set piece rebound at the edge of the box and the ball found it’s way to the bottom corner of the net.
Both teams returned from the tunnel for the second stanza of the game and it was Abia Warriors who were the first to make a statement but Yakub Hammed effort failed to beat Goalkeeper Theophilus.
The Umuahia Warlords became jittery and nearly paid for it but they still had their ‘Personal Saviour’ Godgift Elkanah pulling extraordinary save to ensure the host does not run out of sight.
A break from the midfield by Yakub Hammed found Okon Otop with a brilliant assist and the latter made no mistake, as he clinical restored parity for the Umuahia Warlords from the blind side.
The Elephants surged forward in search of a lead but were denied once more by Goalkeeper Godsgift Elkanah who stood his ground and parried Abdurahman Bashir close range effort to safety.
Abia Warriors Skipper Austin Obaroakpo showed off class and experience as he neatly disposed Obi Samson his goal bound effort inside the 18yard box on two occasions to keep the game level till the 74min.
The much sorted lead by Enyimba International came through at the 78min as Stanley Dimgba connected brilliantly with Emeka Atulomah corner kick and headed the ball into an empty and sent the home fans into ecstasy.
It turned a ding dong affair as the both coaches effected tactical changes but none changed the scoreline till the center Referee thus brought proceedings at the Enyimba International Stadium to an end.
Enyimba International win over Abia Warriors today marked the first ever victory of Enyimba against Abia Warriors in an ‘Abia derby’ played in Aba.