Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Big Match: Enyimba v Rangers

Aba is one of the busiest commercial towns in the southeast of Nigeria. The town has been popular for several reasons - from the British using it as a military post in the early 1900s to the 1929 riot by Igbo women known as the Aba Women's Riot.

But since the turn of the Millenium, Aba has become home to two-time African champions and undoubtedly Nigeria's most successful football club, Enyimba.

This Sunday, the People's Elephant will play hosts to one of their biggest southeast rivals, Enugu Rangers, at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba. Today, so many enthusiasts now refer to this clash as the Oriental Derby which is originally associated with the clash between Enugu Rangers and Heartland.

Match Background

Coincidentally, Enyimba and Enugu Rangers are the only clubs to have won the Glo Premier League six times apiece. Enyimba have won the Nigerian top division in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2010 while Rangers won their six titles in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982 and 1984 during the old Division One era.

The Flying Antelopes have endured a 30-year trophy drought since winning the league in 1984. But now they have hired a former Enyimba player in John Obuh to take charge as their manager for this season.

Last season while Enyimba missed out on a record seventh title by just a point, Rangers finished in fifth place and five points behind eventual champions, Kano Pillars.

This season's first meeting between both clubs will be the 20th clash in the Premier League era.

Key Players

Obuh is going to have to blood a handful of talented players at Rangers like Ejike Uzoenyi, Ugonna Uzochukwu, Christian Obiozor, Cyril Oriaku, Chinedu Sunday, Emeka Eze, Bitrus Dada, Jonah Usman and Pape Ousmane Sane into a squad with a winning mentality to stand a chance of ending their hoodoo of three decades.

But Rangers will come up against the meanest defence in the country. Enyimba's defence have the like of Chinedu Udoji, Semiu Liadi, Markson Ojobo, Bala Zakka, Ugwu Uwadiegwu and Bright Esieme.

Rangers have made the trip to Aba with the duo of Uzoenyi and Uzochukwu, who were in the Nigerian squad to the African Nations Championship (Chan) in January.

Ifeanyi Ede and Esieme, who were also part of Nigeria's Chan squad, are in Enyimba's provisional squad for this southeast derby.

Injury concerns

Rangers are without two key players in Haliru Umar and Senegalese centre-back, Pierre Coly, who are both injured. Umar is said to be recovering from a knee injury while Coly is down with a hamstring.

On the other hand, Enyimba do not have any injury concerns going into this clash.

Meetings @ Enyimba in pre-Premier League era

Enyimba have been very strong in terms of playing personnel since the start of the Millenium. As far back as 14 years ago defeated Rangers by a lone goal in this same fixture. The People's Elephant repeated same feat in February of 2002 edging Rangers by a goal.

The last time the Flying Antelopes earned a point at Enyimba was in November 2001 when they played out a 1-1 draw. That season Enugu Rangers finished top of table in the regular season while Enyimba ended up in second place on 48 points - two behind Rangers.

During the Super Four to decide the champions that year, Rangers finished fourth behind Gombe United, NPA (now Warri Wolves) and eventual champions, Enyimba. To add to Rangers' pain, Enyimba defeated them 1-0 on the final day of the playoff to win their first league title. Emeka Nwanna scored the winner.

Thirteen years later, Nwanna is still very much active and is lurking to punish his former club, Rangers. The big question is 'can Rangers finally end the dominance of Enyimba in Aba over them?'

Head-to-head in Premier League era
July 7, 2013: Enyimba 1-0 Enugu Rangers
March 9, 2013: Enugu Rangers 1-0 Enyimba
May 27, 2012: Enyimba 2-0 Enugu Rangers
Feb 15, 2012: Enugu Rangers 1-0 Enyimba
Oct 9, 2011: Enugu Rangers 1-0 Enyimba
Dec 23, 2010: Enyimba 1-0 Enugu Rangers
June 13, 2010: Enyimba 1-0 Enugu Rangers
Jan 27, 2010: Enugu Rangers 0-0 Enyimba
Feb 22, 2009: Enugu Rangers 2-0 Enyimba
Oct 12, 2008: Enyimba 1-0 Enugu Rangers
April 30, 2008: Enyimba 1-0 Enugu Rangers
Jan 9, 2008: Enugu Rangers 1-0 Enyimba
June 8, 2007: Enugu Rangers 0-2 Enyimba
Oct 12, 2005: Enugu Rangers 1-1 Enyimba
May 15, 2005: Enyimba 1-0 Enugu Rangers
June 23, 2004: Enugu Rangers 2-0 Enyimba
May 3, 2004: Enyimba 1-0 Enugu Rangers
July 27, 2003: Enyimba 2-0 Enugu Rangers
March 6, 2003: Enugu Rangers 0-0 Enyimba

No comments:

Post a Comment