Five Takeaways from Abia Warriors vs El-Kanemi tune-up tie

By Clement Nwankpa Jr

Ocheme Edoh's 26th minute strike was all El-Kanemi Warriors needed to beat Abia Warriors 1-0 in a pre-season friendly at Umuahia Township Stadium. Here are five takeaways from the thrilling encounter


Everton's back three experiment
New Abia Warriors coach, Rafael Everton has been toying with the idea of deploying a three-man central defence next season. This was a perfect platform to test this formation against a formidable opposition. This was just a friendly. There is still ample time for him to work on this experiment and see whether it is sustainable. Austin Obaroakpo featured on the right side of the back three, Chinedu Efugh played in the centre and Abiodun Adebayo to the left. A couple of times the trio were caught out of position as they struggled to come to terms with the demands. The biggest culprit was Obaroakpo, who at some point got lost in a full back position. There were also those important details of getting the wing backs Emmanuel Ogbuagu and Goodluck Ozioma create the desired incision from the flanks well aware that they had ample cover from three central defenders.

El-Kanemi love it in Umuahia
This was just a friendly but the importance of avoiding a defeat was not lost on the Abia Warriors faithful. El-Kanemi won in Umuahia last season before completing a double on Abia Warriors in Maiduguri. They felt at ease in Umuahia. The arena is becoming a good hunting ground.

Ocheme still has class
Ocheme's sublime strike was a deserving winner. The composure he showed in turning away and hitting target highlighted his class. His off-the-ball runs and knack to hold up the ball and play on his teammates was the highpoint of El-Kanemi's counter-attacking disposition. It had been observed that Abia Warriors back three had positional difficulties, Ocheme's runs posed the biggest threat.

Abia Warriors need another striker
Abia Warriors were definitely the better team on the day. For a neutral, they were the better jelled team and provided more entertainment. It is obvious Everton is putting together a bunch of entertainers but he must find a way to have a more solid presence in the final third. They had problems getting behind the visitors' back four and most of their attempts at goal were long range efforts. The club cannot afford an over-reliance on Sunday Adetunji, who, by the way, may not be available for the beginning of the season. Another fox in the box should be a priority. If they had one in this game, the result would have been different. They didn't really deserve to lose.

Imama yet to assert himself on this team
Imama Amapakabo is noted for his high-pressing game. This El-Kanemi team were far from a vintage Imama performance. Little wonder he was furious and kicked the rail from the stands where he chose to watch the game in one instance when a player passed the ball backwards when a teammate had made an attacking run. It was more of a cautious display and the team discipline must be applauded, but Imama has not got a hold on this team yet. Was it why he did not sit on the bench?

Abia Warriors 0-1 Elkanemi
Corner 1-0
Attempts 7-4
On target 5-2
Fouls 12-26
Throws 15-23
Offside 3-6

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