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Enyimba, Kano Pillars in Flying Start to the New Season
By El-Kanemi grabs first away win in Uyo
Seven-time champions Enyimba got their 2018/2019 NPFL season underway with a convincing two-nil win over MFM FC Lagos at the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Kano Pillars Football Club yesterday picked up a slim 1-0 win over visiting Heartland FC of Owerri to start their campaign on a winning note. The match which was played at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano was watched by large number of spectators.
Midfielder Sunday Chinedu scored the winner in the 16th minute, and in spite of their dominance Kano Pillars failed to add to their lead.
In Aba, Nelson Ogbonnaya gave Enyimba the lead on 13 minutes, before Abdulrahman Bashir sealed the win in the 54th minute.
Chukwuka Onuwa and Stanley Okorom were hoping to make their debuts, since joining from MFM during pre-season, but Enyimba head coach Usman Abdallah decided to keep faith with Austin Oladapo and Andrew Abalogu ahead of the duo.
The visitors handed debut to Michael Ohanu, who formed a formidable partnership upfront with Chijioke Akuneto and Akanni Elijah in a 4-3-3 formation. Ohanu joined the Lagos side from El-Kanemi Warriors.
Enyimba got the fixture to a rousing start just before the quarter hour, as Ogbonnaya rose highest to head home Nasiru Sani’s throw-in. MFM goalkeeper Emmanuel Nasamu and his defenders lost out while trying to keep Chinedu Udechukwu in check, leaving Ogbonnaya free in the six-yard area.
The People’s Elephant would have doubled their advantage three minutes before the break, but Nasamu turned up this time, to deny Bashir from 15 yards.
The home side took firm control of the fixture with a second, nine minutes after the break. Bashir got to the end of Abalogu’s free kick to nod in from close range.
Midway through the second half, Abdallah withdrew Stanley Dimgba, to hand former MFM man Onuwa his debut, much to the delight of the home fans, who gave him a standing ovation.
Onuwa’s presence added bite to the home side’s attacking play, but Enyimba could not translate their dangerous attacking moves to further goals, as the duo of Stephen Chukwude and Thomas Zenke were wasteful late on.
MFM would have had a consolation five minutes to time, but Akuneto had himself to blame for deciding to go solo, instead of squaring the ball through to Ohanu, who had just the goalkeeper to beat.
Enyimba go top of Group A, after Kwara United and Sunshine Stars shared the spoils in IIorin. The four remaining fixtures in the group were postponed to a later date, due to continental engagements (Lobi and Rangers) and recovery time handed the newly promoted teams (Remo Stars and Bendel Insurance).
Akwa Utd 0-1 El Kanemi
Enyimba 2-0 MFM FC
Kano Pillars 1-0 Heartland
Kwara 1-1 Sunshine Stars
Nasarawa 1-0 Abia Warriors
Plateau Utd 0-0 IfeanyiUbah
Rangers v Tornadoes
Go Round v Kada City
Lobi Stars v Katsina Utd
Rivers Utd v Remo Stars
Wikki v Bendel Insurance
Yobe Stars v Gombe Utd