The Aba Elephants are on the verge of securing their first title in five years and no one should begrudge them after a long and arduous season that has been filled with so many highs and lows.
On Sunday, Enyimba emerged victorious in the Abia Derby to go six points clear at the top of the league and would have been confirmed champions with two games to play if not for Warri Wolves’ comprehensive 4-0 victory over Bayelsa United. The Deltans enjoy a better goal difference than the Abians and have thereby delayed title celebrations in Aba for at least one more week.
One more point in the next couple of games and the most successful Nigerian football club ever would have claimed their seventh league title in 14 years. Barring any cataclysmic collapse, which is highly unlikely, the former champions have the title all wrapped up.
But does Enyimba International FC deserve to be the side that takes away Kano Pillars’ crown?
The facts seem to suggest so.
Enyimba’s consistency has been outstanding. The People’s Elephants have placed second to Kano Pillars every time Mai Su Gida has won their three consecutive titles. In 2013, they actually lost the title by a solitary point.
But the Aba Millionaires have always come back stronger and tougher and only an incredible Pillars team could have stopped them from totally dominating the league in those years past.
This season has been different however for one of the richest sports clubs in Africa. They have had to chase after a very ambitious field and have played second fiddle for a larger part of the campaign. But they remained composed and focused under the guidance of Kadiri Ikhana, the master tactician behind Kano Pillars’ recent success.
It has been one of the most keenly contested Glo NPFL title race in recent years. Warri Wolves, Wikki Tourists, Giwa FC and even Sunshine Stars have all taken turns in occupying the league’s top spot but ultimately they’ve been mere pretenders.
Undoubtedly, the Aba giants have been the most ruthless in the league this term.
Enyimba FC has only lost 6 out of the 36 games played so far, the fewest of any side in the division. They have recorded the most away wins (5 victories plus 7 draws in 18 games) and thus picked the most away points of all – a key ingredient of a true champion.
At their 25,000 capacity home stadium, they have been indomitable having dropped just 8 points out of a possible 54. They have been helped by having the league’s best defence, conceding a miserly 27 points so far. Coupled with being blessed with one of the league’s finest forward line led by last season’s top scorer, Mfon Udoh. Only Warri Wolves and Sunshine Stars have scored more than Enyimba’s 48 goals.
In summary, the People’s Elephants have had the league’s best defence, one of the division’s finest attacks, an unbeaten home record and an impressive away form that no other side can boast of. That is title-winning profile. That makes Enyimba, worthy champions.