The Peoples' Elephant and the Flying Antelopes will be locked in a battle for supremacy on Sunday at Aba with a win and a loss having contrasting implications for both clubs
The Enyimba International Stadium turf at Aba will be the venue on Sunday when Enyimba host Enugu Rangers in the return leg of the Oriental Derby last played March 9 this year during the opening round of the Nigeria Professional Football League(NPFL) for the current campaign.
Matches among the trio of Heartland, Enyimba and Rangers have always been the talk of the town because of the huge rivalry and when the Peoples Elephant defeated the Naze Millionaires at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri last Wednesday, attention immediately shifted to this tie at Aba.
At the start of the league this season, Enyimba travelled to Rangers with a mission to commence the season with a bang having gone all over the country recruiting some of the best players in the land and also acquiring the best crop of coaches.
Few days before the tie, all attention was on the match that was decided by a late goal last season through Chikeluba Ofoedu's strike at Enugu. On match day last March, it was the acknowledged match of the week and also the fitting opening fixture of the 2012/13 season which was beamed live to Nigerians from the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.
Just like it was the last season, it was a careless lone goal through Dada Bitrus that decided the tie even though Enyimba were very excellent during the game and Rangers were second best for most of the tie.
With all that has been said about the first leg, the result of this second leg is so dear for both teams and may have a far reaching effect on the sides.
Enyimba are the on-form side. They defeated Heartland 1-0 at the latter’s backyard and if they do not allow the euphoria of that win to get into their heads, they should be able to nick a victory over troubled Rangers.
The Peoples Elephant have everything going for them now. They are fourth on the league table with 31 points and a win will increase their points' haul to 34 and it may see them retaining the fourth position for another week with the top three expected to win their respective home games.
The Flying Antelopes will no doubt have their effort cut out with the damaging effect their expulsion from the Caf Confederation Cup competition will have on their psyche among other internal strife within the Enugu side especially the one involving the clearance of players this season.
Enyimba signed added strikers during the mid season transfer window. They are attackers of no mean feat despite the team's parade of quality forward like Sibi Gwar, Saviour Fidelis, Michael Okoyoh and Ifeanyi Ede at the start of the season. New acquisitions like Bishop Onyeudo, Emeka Nwanna, Victor Ezeji, John Huan and Daniel Etor have been brought in during the mid season transfer to add balance to the team that has found goal scoring act difficult this season. With some of them expected to make their debut against Rangers, the Coal City side are in for real trouble.
The game between the duo ended 2-0 at Aba last season with former players of Rangers coming to haunt them. Rasaq Adegbite who will be unavoidably absent having secured a deal abroad scored the curtain raiser while Ugwu Uwadiegwu netted the second against Rangers but was later red carded.
The spectator will be filled to capacity at the stands like the ones that thronged the Heartland's match at Aba. The crowd at the stadium that day was adjudged the highest for Enyimba in recent seasons.
Enyimba's Fidelis who scored Enyimba's lone goal against Heartland has already admonished his team mates not to carried away by the result of the game at Owerri. He advised them to dissipate the energies they would have used to over celebrate the victory over the Naze Millionaires to the game with Rangers.
"We thank God for the win over Heartland. It has indeed lifted our spirit and the willpower to do something special for the sports loving governor of Abia State, Dr. T.A Orji at the end of the season.
"It was my first goal in three starts for Enyimba but I can't continue to sing the praises of this single game when I know we have other tough matches ahead. We have a tricky tie against Enugu Rangers and if we continue to celebrate the win over Heartland, it may hinder us from producing our best against them on Sunday.
"I am appealing to my fellow team mates that we should cut our celebration short as we focus on the Sunday game against Enugu Rangers. We must win that game to show that we are back to where we belong," Fidelis told Goal.
The mood within Rangers showed that of less talk, more action and if they can overcome their internal strife and concentrate solely on the match, it will be difficult one for the Aba Millionaires despite the array of stars they are expected to parade.
The Coal City side must get a result at Aba if they want to be among the top seven. They are presently fifth with 30 points from 20 games.