Monday, March 31, 2014

Enyimba's 6-year home record ends

Six-time Nigerian champions Enyimba crashed to their first home defeat in six years when city rivals, Abia Warriors stunned them one-nil on Sunday.

Abia Warriors defeated the two-time African champions at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba through Cletus Itodo's [pictured] super strike in the first half.

Enyimba head coach, Zachary Baraje named a squad without Abdulrahman Bashir and also picked Emeka Nwanna ahead of Sibi Gwar.

Goalkeeper Femi Thomas continued to be overlooked by Baraje following their Caf Champions League exit while veteran shot-stopper Chijioke Ejiogu started.

But Ladan Bosso selected a strong side for the Warriors that included ex-Enyimba men in Itodo and Bishop Onyeudo while big names like goalkeeper Emmanuel Fabiyi, Ogbonnaya Okemmiri, Johnson Chidozie, Edward Bewarang and Chisom Chikatara all started from the bench.

Onyeudo proved to be a handful for his ex-teammates with his physical play in the early minutes of the contest and it became a straight battle between him and Enyimba captain, Chinedu Udoji.

Enyimba however shedded the possession until the 35th minute when Itodo picked up the ball in midfield and evaded Bright Esieme and also ran past Emmanuel Anyanwu before unleashing a pile-driver that beat Ejiogu for what turned out to be the winning goal.

Bosso's men kept their lead intact into the break and continued to defend stoutly in the second 45.

Enyimba produced an attacking second half and as at the 77th minute, the Aba club had created 15 attempts at goal to Abia Warriors' two.

The Warriors goalkeeper Joseph Onuoha put up a heroic display to foil Enyimba's forward line.

In spite of Enyimba's push for a late goal, Itodo's strike proved just enough for Abia Warriors to win the first-ever Abia Derby in the Premier League era in Nigeria.

Bayelsa United were the last side to inflict a defeat on Enyimba at home in the Nigerian premier division on November 16, 2008. United won that game 2-0 in Ilorin where Enyimba were sent to play their home matches after their fans had assaulted match officials during a previous game in Aba in the 2008/09 season.

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