Enyimba International on Tuesday got off to a winning start in the Nigeria Professional Football League 2020/21 season as they pipped their city rivals, Abia Warriors, by a lone goal.
Samad Kadiri’s solitary strike from the penalty spot in the second half made all the difference as Enyimba emerged victorious in the well-contested Abia derby.
The People’s Elephant started on a rampaging note and almost broke the deadlock barely five minutes into the game, but Abia Warriors’ new goalkeeper, Ojo Olorunleke, was equal to the task and the hosts were also denied by the wood work.
Fatai Osho’s men thought they had gotten the early goal they craved for when Kadiri got the ball in the net, but the effort was chalked off as the referee spotted a foul against Abia Warriors’ Adekunle Adeleke in the build-up.
After staying on the back foot in the early exchanges, Abia Warriors began to threaten the Enyimba defense. Just before the half-hour mark, Nzube Anaezemba came close to scoring against his former team but his effort was too timid to cause any havoc for the Enyimba goalkeeper.
There were chances at both ends for the two teams, but Olufemi Kayode in goal for Enyimba and Olorunleke for Abia Warriors did well to ensure the first half ended with no goals.
However, the breakthrough for Enyimba came six minutes into the second half when a handball was spotted in the Abia Warriors penalty box.
Kadiri stepped up to take the resultant kick and he did not disappoint; sending the Abia Warriors the wrong way and giving Enyimba the lead.
There was end-to-end stuff in the charged derby clash but there were no more goals for neither side.
In the heat of the moment, Abia Warriors coach, Imama Amapakabo, got booked for dissent.
In the end, Enyimba did enough to hold on to their slim advantage and begin their campaign in the NPFL on a winning note.
For Abia Warriors, having given a good account of themselves in the derby clash, they would hope for better results in their subsequent outings.
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