NPFL Preview: Abia Warriors Vs Heartland FC
The ancient city of Okigwe comes alive on Wednesday for a juicy Oriental derby clash between the Abia Warriors and Heartland FC of Owerri at the Okigwe Township Stadium in match day 34 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
The Umuahia landlords (Abia Warriors) have a history of tormenting the Naze Millionaires (Heartland Owerri) since they arrived in the elite division from the NNL.
The game offers an interesting tactical battle between two young tacticians, Imama Amapakabo of Abia Warriors and Fidelis Ilechukwu of Heartland, who understand thier craft. Both coaches have served at the National U-23 team.
While Imama has lifted the league title with Rangers International, Ilechukwu punched above his weight with MFM as they finished 2nd, getting a Champions league slot.
This season Imama and Ilechukwu’s teams have gone through some rough patches. The neutrals will surely enjoy an absorbing spectacle as both coaches will try to cancel out each other.
Abia Warriors have scored 37 goals so far this season while Heartland despite conceding the most have scored 39 goals.
Head to Head
Abia Warriors enjoy a superior record as regards this fixture. In eleven meetings Heartland have only won once while Abia Warriors have won 6 times against their more illustrious opponents.
Abia Warriors have also defeated Heartland three times away from home, while enjoying same number of victories at thier fortress in Umuahia.
Heartland’s only win came last year on the 12th of January 2020 at the Okigwe Township Stadium where an Abiodun Thompson’s strike was enough to break the jinx.
Ironically,Obioma Chukwuemeka who assisted Thompson for the jinx breaking goal last year is now with Imama and Abia Warriors. The graduate of Architecture from Abia State University has scored 7 goals for Abia Warriors this season, one more than he got for Heartland last term.
Players to Watch
Sampson Paul is a delight to watch as his trickery on the flanks and his ability drive through pockets of spaces makes him a dangerous customer. Godwin Obaje is another man to watch out for. His imposing physique and presence will surely keep Heartland defenders pretty busy at the rear.
Emeka Atuloma is another player to watch. The Umuahia born midfielder led Heartland’s fight back during the first leg and is expected to be Heartland’s talisman dictating things in the middle of the park.
The speed demon, Kinglsey Maduforo, is another player to watch. On his day, he can wreak a lot of havoc with his blistering pace, cutting through defenders like a knife through butter. Maduforo is known to be a nightmare for opposing defenders.
The Naze millionaires will be hungry to get thier pound of flesh against a troublesome Abia Warriors. The clash will be a thrilling encounter when both sides meet. As the popular saying goes: ‘When two elephants fight, the grass will surely feel the heat.’
Match day 34 NPFL fixtures
Abia Warriors Vs Heartland FC
Akwa United Vs Warri Wolves
Enugu Rangers Vs Kano Pillars
Jigawa Golden Stars Vs Rivers United
Lobi Stars Vs Nasarawa United
MFM FC Vs Plateau United
Sunshine Stars Vs Katsina United
Dakkada FC Vs Adamawa united
Ifeanyi Ubah FC Vs Enyimba
Kwara United Vs Wikki Tourist