Top-3 spot not in the bag yet, warns Anaemena

By Fisayo Dairo

The word ‘Fantastic’ dominated Ifeanyi Anaemena’s post-match chat with npfl.ng after the centre-back scored two goals – both headers – to inspire his Enyimba side to a very crucial 3-1 win over Rangers in Sunday’s Oriental Derby in Aba.

Enyimba and Rangers – the true Pride of the East with rich culture, tradition and success – thrilled the over 15,000 fans at the Enyimba International Stadium to a fantastic Sunday afternoon of top notch football action with Anaemena unanimously winning the man of the match award.

There were four goals in the contest and in all sincerity, there could easily have been more. Tackles flew in here and there as well as a mark of a feisty derby with fans of both sides exuding incredible passion for the local game as the Matchday 17 tie lasted.

“It’s a fantastic win for us and very encouraging for me,” began Anaemena who scored the first and last goals in the intriguing clash.

“I thank God for the superb action that I displayed, my goals and my defensive contribution, I thank him for the performance.”

Sunday’s win moved Enyimba three points closer to Rangers at the summit of Group A and more crucially gives them a four-point allowance over fourth-placed Lobi Stars as Usman Abd’Allah’s men tightened their grip on a playoff spot.

Many Enyimba fans had prior to Sunday’s game earmarked it as one which could guarantee their top-three status should they beat Rangers but after the win, Anaemena spoke under no such illusions, stressing clearly that they still have more hard work ahead.

“The top-three slot is not in the bag yet. We know we have to work harder because it remains five matches to go and every team is playing good in this our group so you have to try to keep up your game and make sure you dominate in every match you play so we’re still working hard to meet up with the slot,” added the former Giwa FC star.

By the virtue of their win over the Flying Antelopes, the People’s Elephant extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches in the league. Much has been said or expected about the abridged league format of this season’s NPFL, on how difficult and dangerous it can be for teams. How then have Enyimba been able to achieve consistent results?

Anaemena who is the team’s vice-captain answers: “It has been God and hard-work. The team work has been fantastic; the encouragement and the motivation in the team has been fantastic. Everybody plays, everybody gets along and the unity in the team has been fantastic.”

Up next for Enyimba is another crucial midweek clash with Rivers United at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt.