Thursday, February 27, 2014

Big game feature: Stores v 3SC

The Nigeria National League (NNL) now seems to have more of the traditional clubs competing in its ranks. Two of those traditional clubs, Stationery Stores and 3SC, will re-open their rivalry on Thursday at the Onikan Stadium in Lagos for the first time in 22 years.

Respected Nigerian journalist, Mumini Alao, has termed the Stationery Stores versus 3SC match as the 'El-Clasico Of Western Nigeria.'

Both clubs go into Thursday's clash with an unbeaten start to the 2013/14 National League season. Stores have drawn their opening two games against Abia Comets and Gateway United while 3SC have taken four points from their two matches against Remo Stars and City Of David (COD) United.

In 1992 when Stores won the top flight in Nigeria, they finished just one point ahead of 3SC in a photo-finish that saw Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland) and defunct Udoji United end up in third and fourth positions respectively.

Former Nigerian centre-back, Ajibade Babalade, who played for both clubs during his playing days, told that the rivalry between Stores and 3SC was fierce back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"Stationery Stores gave me my first break into football and I remember vividly the rivalry between Stores and Shooting Stars (3SC). The stadium where both teams played back then was always packed and I hope that will be same though both teams might not have the calibre of players back then," Babalade told

Babalade went on to take part in a game against 3SC that had the like of Felix Owolabi in their fold at the Lekan Salami Stadium. That game in the late 1980s ended 1-1 and the return clash at the Onikan Stadium produced a six-goal thriller that finished 3-3.

The rivalry between 3SC and Stores even extended to signing of star players. One of such major tussle over players was Muda Lawal moving from 3SC to Stores and later rejoining 3SC in the late 1980s.

Even Babalade felt the impact of that rivalry as he could not join 3SC straight from Stores and had to opt for Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland) before teaming up with the Ibadan club in later years.

"Back then it was always difficult for any player to move to either side of the clubs because the rivalry was something else. I was approached by Shooting Stars then as a player of Stores but then I had to join Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland). It was from there I joined Shooting Stars later," disclosed Babalade.

Stores head coach, Taiwo Enegwea, knows the rivalry has re-opened and is now eyeing a first league win this season.

He also acknowledged that 3SC will make it tough for his side.

"We do not expect an easy game against Shooting Stars but we want to win this game as it is the first clash with our old rivals in a long while," said Enegwea to

Enegwea will bank on the like of Hoseni Akinoladimeji, Julius Filani, Jejelola Rilwan, Uzezi Ogbenoro, Raphael Onwrebe, Jimoh Olawale, Festus Ajah and Moses Fatolu.

Stores will have to be wary of Samuel Akinbinu, Timothy Idogbe, Yomi Adigun, Okikiola Afolabi, Ebiaku Sylvanus and Bobby Clement.

Head coach of 3SC, Franklin Howard, is familiar with the rivalry between his club and Stores and believes it will be "a big clash."

"It is a big clash of two big clubs from the south-west. Do not make any mistake about it that it is a lower division game but the rivalry still exists. It is a rivalry I know about because I played in the league years ago," said Howard, who played for New Nigeria Bank FC, ACB and El-Kanemi Warriors.

"So I do not expect the rivalry will die down now. It will be a tough match and we are focused on getting a result from this big game."

The Stationery Stores versus 3SC game kicks off 4pm Nigerian time (5pm CAT) at the Onikan Stadium this Thursday.

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