Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Premier League Title Down To The Wires

Just one point separates Enyimba and Kano Pillars in the run-in to the Premier League title race for this season’s campaign. The curtain would fall on today in Aba and nine other centres across the country, but the home of five-time champion, Enyimba, would be the cynosure of all eyes.
It would be a titanic finish to the campaign, which has thrown up interesting match-ups on its way to the final day of the championship. In the first meeting between the two clubs this season on January 17 this year, the Peoples Elephant succumbed to the firepower and home dominance of the Kano giant by two-nil with Ahmed Musa as one of the scorers.
The gladiators are already set to clash inside the Enyimba Sports Complex in Aba with head coach of the Peoples Elephant, Okey Emordi, saying that the title is that of his side to lose especially as it needs just a point to win its sixth title and tie with Enugu Rangers as the only sides to have won the top-flight in Nigeria six times.
“It is going to be a tough battle with Kano Pillars. But we are ready for them because we know that we don’t need to play under pressure. We know that with just a draw we will win this trophy but we will give the game our best and I believe we will come out tops,” said Emordi, who moved from rival, Heartland Football Club, to Enyimba before the start of this season.
The Peoples Elephant is also happy that its rival has never won any game in Aba in the past seven seasons, and Emordi believes his side would keep that record against Kano Pillars intact. In Kano Pillars’ last five visits to Aba, it has only been able to pick just a point when it held the former African champion to a 2 – 2 draw on March 30, 2008, which was the year it won its first-ever domestic title in Nigeria.
But Kano Pillars’ gaffer, Salisu Yusuf, said in a telephone interview with that his side’s poor record in Aba in the past seven seasons should count for nothing, as he is bullish that Pillars can pull the chestnut out of fire.
Yusuf said: “We are not a team that is scared of anybody in the league because we want to win this trophy this season. We are going to Aba to win and there is no compromise in this one. Yes, we may not have won in Aba for some years now, but all that change in one day and I believe that this is the time for that to happen.”
However, this game would be characterised with key battles all over the pitch. Definitely, home-based Eagles’ captain, Solomon Okpako of Kano Pillars, would face his national team-mate, Reuben Gabriel, in a midfield battle just as Ahmed Musa and Gambo Mohammed on the Pillars’ end and Osas Idehen of Enyimba would be pulling the strings at each end of both team’s attacks.
As at Monday afternoon, there were several journalists breezing into the town of Aba with virtually all of the big hotels being booked for the title-deciding game. But history coupled with home advantage for which the Nigerian elite division has come to be known for favours the Peoples Elephant ahead of this epic tie.

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