May 18, 2024

Abia Warriors vs Heartland FC :The Naze Millionaires seek redemption in Oriental derby

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By Sedara Philip

Heartland FC and Abia Warriors will trade tackles for the three points at stake in the first Oriental derby of the season in one of the Nigeria Premier Football League Matchday Five games slated for Umuahia this weekend.

Despite a not too impressive start to the season, the Naze Millionaires have only lost once out of four games but their Achilles heel is their inability to secure at least a win from two home games played thus far and this has put the team in precarious situation.

It is still not a hopeless situation judging by Heartland FC’s performance in their last away visit to Akure against Sunshine Stars. As they face Abia Warriors whom they have beaten twice in the league in the past five games since year 2020 they are confident that the elusive first win of the season could be in the offing this term. The then Fidelis Ilechukwu led side ended Abia Warriors’ unbeaten streak over Heartland FC on January 12th, 2020 through Abiodun Thompson’s 56th minute strike at the Okigwe Township Stadium, Okigwe after a fine assist from Obioma Chukwuemeka.

Under Imama Amapakabor as head coach of Abia Warriors, Heartland FC suffered a scare in Okigwe on March 7th, 2021 when they trailed 2-0 at halftime with current Abia Warriors coach, Erasmus Onuh Olottah at the Owerri sides’ dugout then. They managed to secure a draw in the game.

Heartland FC’s last away game against the Umuahia side ended by a lone goal defeat on 16th January, 2022 but the Owerri will be buoyed by the fact that they beat them in their last confrontation together two seasons ago played on May 1st, 2022. It ended 2-1 in Heartland FC’s favour.

The Naze Millionaires have their back almost pinned to the wall due to the successive home draws to Lobi Stars and Katsina United but they cannot afford to lose steam now knowing that they could use a positive result against Abia Warriors to kickstart their season and put an end to the perceived imbroglio in the team.

As usual Heartland FC, head coach Christian Obi will call on Chisom Chiaha, Patrick Nwogbaga, Ezekiel Bassey, Francis Erikan and a host of others to help salvage an away win that will help signal a new order at the club.

Former Heartland FC coach, Erasmus Onuh Olottah is in his second season with Abia Warriors and he was the Naze Millionaires gaffer when this fixture was played in Owerri two seasons ago. He is yet to drop a point at home out of two games played against Niger Tornadoes (1-0) and Kano Pillars (1-0) but he has lost both away games too to Kwara United and Lobi Stars.

He has managed to retain some of the core players of the team from last season. They are new skipper, Augustine Njoku, Daniel Wotlai, Adejoh Ojonugwa, Olufemi Thomas, Jimoh Gbadamosi, and Samson Obi while Sunday Megwo came in and his transition to the team has been very seamless. Abia Warriors got a bargained market in the acquisition of Nonso Nzediegwu from Enyimba.

One thing is certain, the fans that will throng the Umuahia Township Stadium on Sunday will enjoy the best of Oriental derby with chances few and hard to come by but there may just be a faint line between the victor and the vanquished at the end of the game.

*Abia Warriors vs Heartland Head to Head:*

1-5-2022 Heartland 2-1 Abia Warriors

16-1-2022 Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland

21-7- 2021 Abia Warriors 2-1 Heartland

7-3- 2021 Heartland 2-2 Abia Warriors

12-1-2020 Heartland 1-0 Abia Warriors

*Heartland FC Media*

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