Head coach Imama Amapakabo’s first game in charge of Abia Warriors ended in defeat as Enyimba continue their winning run over bitter rivals
Eight-time Nigerian league champions Enyimba kicked off their 2020/21 campaign on a winning note, edging a closely fought encounter 1-0 against local rivals Abia Warriors at the Enyimba Stadium on Tuesday.
Super Eagles former assistant coach to Gernot Rohr, Amapakabo took his charges to Aba to battle Enyimba, but it ended in defeat as Samad Kadiri’s second-half penalty handed the two-time African champions all the three points at stake.
The first half in Aba ended goalless, but it was not without its heart-in-the-mouth moments.
Enyimba were all over their city rivals from the blast of the kickoff whistle and should have been two-nil up within the first five minutes.
But moments after Orok failed to connect with a ball in the box from Sadiq Abubakar, the visitors were saved first by a fine save from goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo and then by the woodwork.
And shortly after, Enyimba’s Samad Kadiri had the ball in the net from a distance, but it was ruled out as the referee’s whistle had gone earlier for a foul on Adekunle Adeleke.
Abia Warriors finally settled into the game and had their first meaningful attempt on target in the 28th minute when ex-Enyimba star Anaezemba made room in the box only to shoot tamely at goalkeeper Olufemi Kayode.
Minutes later, Samson Paul showed good dribbling feet to weave past two Enyimba defenders, but Olufemi Kayode saved his shot with ease.
Enyimba eventually made their dominance count from the penalty spot following a handball in the Warriors’ box five minutes after the break.
And Samad Kadiri did brilliantly to send Olorunleke the wrong way to give the Aba Elephants the lead and put the hosts on the way to their fifth consecutive victory over their bitter rivals.
Abia Warriors best chance of the game arrived midway into the second half but
Arit Archibong shot well wide after a series of passes carved open Enyimba’s defence.
It should have been two-nil to coach Fatai Osho’s side with seven minutes left, but goalscorer Kadiri flashed a shot from a Stephen Manyo pass wide when he had just the Abia Warriors keeper to beat.
The visitors searched hard for the equalizer, but Enyimba held on to record their fifth win in their last six games against the Warriors.