At last, the NPFL is back and what better fixture can start a season than a game as big as the Abia derby, Enyimba vs Abia Warriors.
Call it the Abia derby, the Abia Classic or the Abia Classico, you may not be wrong; but I simply refer to it as “The Mother Of All Derbies.
It is in the same class as other famous African derbies such as the Cairo derby (Al Ahly vs Zamalek), the Derby de Tunis (Esperance Du Tunis v Club Africaine), The Casablanca derby (Raja vs Wydad) the Ondurman derby (Al Merrikh v Al Hilal) & the Soweto derby (Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs).
It is true that the Abia derby (in the league) is still relatively young, but in it’s seven years history, it has undoubtedly produced excitement each time.
Let’s take a look at the head to head and some facts about this big match between both teams in the league.
FACTS ABOUT THE FIXTURE:
Abia Warriors, a side that was formed in 2004, eventually got promoted to the Nigerian elite division in 2013 ahead of the 2014 NPFL Season. Since then, both teams have met eleven times in the league with Enyimba winning six, Abia Warriors winning two, while three matches ended in draws. Enyimba have scored eighteen goals while Abia Warriors have scored twelve.
Stanley Dimgba, formerly of Enyimba and Ndifreke Efiong formerly of Abia warriors are the top scorers of this massive derby with three goals each.
The derby has produced some very interesting goals in the past. One may not easily forget the powerful twenty-five yard strike from Cletus Itodo for Abia warriors in Warriors’ famous 1-0 victory over Enyimba in Aba and the two spectacular goals in the return fixture in Umuahia – a thirty yard strike from Enyimba’s Rasheed Olabiyi and a spectacular Chisom Chikatara equaliser in an entertaining and unforgettable 3-3 draw in Umuahia.
Also in 2016, Dare Ojo scored a brilliant goal for Enyimba in a 1-0 home victory in Port Harcourt.
In the last five fixtures of this encounter, Enyimba have won four and drawn one. In fact, Enyimba are on a four match winning streak over Abia Warriors, with Warriors last getting a league win over Enyimba in a 3-1 win in Umuahia back in 2016.
The biggest win in this massive derby is Enyimba’s 4-1 away win over Abia Warriors in February 2020, while the game with the highest number of goals was a 3-3 draw in Umuahia in 2014.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
For today’s derby, the players to watch from Enyimba include Captain of the side Cyril Olisema, Samad Kadiri, Abiodun Adebayo and The Terrific Trio of Anayo Iwuala, Sadiq Abubakar and Gabriel Orok.
While For Abia Warriors, there are former Enyimba midfielder Nzube Anaezemba, as well as the likes of Godwin Obaje, Markson Ojobo and Emeka Obioma.
The Abia derby is the mother of all derbies. No matter where it’s being played – Aba, Umuahia or elsewhere – one thing is always certain, it always brings excitement.