- Published on Thursday, 27 July 2017 17:41
- Hits: 1758
By China Acheru
The biggest game of Matchday 32 in the Nigeria Professional Football League is definitely in Calabar where Enyimba will host Kano Pillars.
There is the small Oriental Derby in Umuahia between Abia Warriors and FC Ifeanyiubah while last season’s big game holds in Enugu between Rangers and Rivers United, but Calabar is where it all happens.
Below are nine top reasons the Enyimba versus Kano Pillars game is a must-watch for fans, neutrals or just lovers of football.
It is a battle of continental hopefuls
Both sides believe they have a shot at playing on the continent next season and it will be battle royale in Calabar.
Enyimba currently stand in fourth place with 47 points and Kano Pillars lie in 10th place with 44 points.
A win for either side will certainly improve their chances of hitting their set target.
An Enyimba win cements them in fourth place and closes the gap on third-placed Akwa United while a Pillars win will also increase their chances of ending in top-three.
Homecoming for ex-Enyimba players
At the end of the last football season, there was an exodus of Enyimba players to Kano Pillars
Chinedu Udoji, Idris Aloma, Kamal Sikiru, Musa Najare and a few others crossed over from Eastern Nigeria to the groundnut city and this game will be a great home coming for them.
In local parlance, we will say, “They need to show the Enyimba faithful that they are not tired legs yet.”
Kano Pillars hope to do the double over Enyimba
Last season, Enyimba did the double over Pillars. Wow! Did that really happen? We all know how invincible Kano Pillars are supposed to be at home, but yes, Enyimba did the double over them.
Enyimba won 2-1 in Port Harcourt (which they used as home) and by the same scoreline in Kano.
With Kano Pillars winning the Kano leg of this season, maybe they could just do the double over Enyimba as pay back.
The rivalry between both sides
In the 70s and 80s, the biggest north/south rivalry was any game between Rangers International and DIC Bees, later Ranchers Bees.
In the last 10 years that big game has been any one between Enyimba and Kano Pillars. Enyimba have won seven league titles and four Federation Cups (now Aiteo Cup) while Kano Pillars have won four league titles, making both of them the most successful Nigerian clubs since the turn of the Millenium.
Enyimba’s good home record vs Kano Pillars poor away form
Enyimba have a near perfect home record while Pillars have been horrible on the road. Does this mean the game will be easy pickings for Enyimba? Not so fast.
Enyimba have failed to win two games this season at home - a goalless against Shooting Stars and 1-1 draw against MFM FC.
Kano Pillars, on the other hand, in spite of their poor road form have managed draws at against, while Kano Pillars have also picked draws at Rivers United, ABS FC, Shooting Stars and Remo Stars.
Tight head-to-head shows tight contest
The head-to-head statistics between both sides show we will have a game on our hands as there is not much between them.
Since 2003, both sides have met 25 times in the league with Enyimba winning 11 and Kano Pillars getting 10 wins as four ended in stalemates.
Former captains face-off
Enyimba’s goalkeeper, Theophilus Afelokhai used to be the captain of Kano Pillars three seasons ago, while Kano Pillars defender Chinedu Udoju was the captain of Enyimba just last season.
Both players will certainly have something to play for in this game.
Enyimba’s home invincibility under threat
The last time Enyimba lost a league match at home was 69 matches ago. Kano Pillars will be hoping to not just do a double over Enyimba as pay back for last season but to end the home side’s 69-game unbeaten run at home.
Battle of the midfield
It will be a game of two experienced midfield generals and as they say, once again, in local parlance, “it is the grass that will suffer.”
Enyimba have Ikechukwu Ibeneghu, the one known as Mosquito while Kano Pillars will most likely start with Rabiu Ali, also known as Pele.
Both have the ability to change the course of the game with their inspirational play and of course their set piece prowess.
It was Ibenegbu’s free kick goal that gave Enyimba three points in a difficult encounter against Lobi Stars in their last home game.
And just in case you want some more
These nine reasons to watch are not enough? Well, it is the business end of the Nigeria Professional Football League and any encounter between Enyimba and Kano Pillars at this stage will be a beauty to watch.
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