Enyimba International Football Club on Tuesday defeated Abia Warriors by a lone goal in the hotly contested Abia Derby in the Match Day 1 of the 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.
With this victory, Enyimba have remained unbeaten in their last 6 NPFL meetings against Abia Warrior, winning five and drawing one.
The game played at the 16,000 sitting capacity Enyimba International Stadium, Aba, Abia saw the eight-time Nigerian champions all over their city rivals while calling into action on several occasions, the Warriors goalkeeper, Olorunleke Ojo.
To show all intent and purposes, the People’s Elephant had the ball in the net in the 5th minute, but the goal was called off due to an earlier foul on Warriors’ Adekunle Adeleke.
In the 32nd minute, there was a moment of relief for the visiting side when Samad Kadiri was brought down in the box but the referee turned down the penalty call.
In the 35th minute, Abia Warriors had their own chance to open the scoring when Samson Paul went past two defenders and shot at goal which was calmly saved by Enyimba’s goalkeeper, Olufemi.
At the restart of the second half in the 51st minute, the referee pointed to the spot following a handball in the box. Kadiri stepped up to send Olorunleke the wrong way and gave Enyimba the deserved lead.
Not satisfied with the 1 goal lead, the two-time CAF Champions League winners soaked up the pressure and played on a counter-attacking tactic which however failed to produce a second goal.
As the game wore on and as expected in a derby, there were tempers which necessitated Abia Warriors coach, Imama Amapakabo being booked for dissent.
In the 83rd minute, Enyimba had another chance double their lead when Stephen Manyo’s cross into the box was flashed wide by Kadiri who just had only the keeper to beat while in the 90th minute, Warriors had the last chance to earn a point but Arit Archibong swung his attempt at goal wildly as the ball rolled away from the target.
The win ensures a winning start for Enyimba who face elimination from the CAF Confederation Cup after a 3-0 loss to Sudan’s Al Merrikh in the first leg of their first-round tie.
Meanwhile, the Rivers United will welcome Enugu Rangers today for the last rounds of the Match Day 1 fixtures in Port Harcourt.