Enugu football fans are in for a tough battle as two big clubs in the Premier League take to the pitch to battle for the three points at stake
On Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, Heartland will come face to face with one of their bitter rivals from neigbouring state Abia, Enyimba.
Any time the two teams play, fans hope to see good display of football artistry that will put them on the edge of their seats. They cheer on and expect, in most cases, that the better side would win.
This match has all the trappings of a game that will be the talk of the town for a long time to come.
Heartland are supposed to be playing at home in Owerri but because of the renovation work on the Dan Anyiam Stadium, they have had to move to an alternative venue.
They have played two games at the Gabros International Stadium, Nnewi where they defeated Kaduna United and Kwara United.
This game against Enyimba will not be played in Nnewi but Enugu. The imposing Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium will host the game and already players of Enyimba are happy that the game will be played in a "neutral venue".
Home based Super Eagles striker Uche Kalu who plays for Enyimba told Goal.com that he is confident Enyimba will triumph in the match.
"I know Heartland is a good side with lots of experienced players. I also know that when they face Enyimba, they play with a different spirit.
"But I am so sure that we are going to win for several factors. This match will be played in a stadium that I consider, a neutral venue where there will be no advantage for any of the teams.
"That will favour us because we will approach the game without tension and that will give us an edge over Heartland.
"The match will be live on television and this is another factor that will help us in the game. And most importantly, we have better players that are young and eager to make a name for themselves.
"Everything points to a resounding victory for us and I am sure it will come to pass," boasted Kalu.
Goal.com understands Heartland are not taking this match lightly as the players have promised that this is one match they must win.
Captain of the Owerri side Chinedu Effugh said that Kalu can say whatever he likes, but the game will be played on the field.
"When you look at the two teams, you will realise that we have a better team. Better in terms of experience and what they can do in matches like this.
"I know my colleagues are ready for this game. The fact that we can go to Gombe and Kano to get valuable points off Gombe United and Kano Pillars means we are a strong side.
"Our position on the league table must improve and the game against Enyimba is one of the games that will help us do that. Over the years, we have had the edge over Enyimba and this game will not be an exception.
"I learnt that Enyimba players are happy that Enugu will host the game. But they must also realise that Enugu is our home for now and we intend to make maximum use of it to get as many points as possible even as we have so many players that know Enugu very well having played for Rangers.
"I have played for Rangers, so also is Brendan Ogbu, Kabiru Umar and we know the place so well that we are going to feel at home.
"I am confident, sure and optimistic that we will carry the day," Effugh opined.
A lawyer who is involved with the two players, Chike Onyeacho said the game will sure provide the people of Enugu with an avenue of relaxation on Sunday and noted that Kalu and Effugh will want to showcase their talents by leading the two clubs to fight for the three points in the game.
"I know the two teams very well. I also know that the two players are serious about what they have said will happen on that day. I hope to also watch the game in Enugu".
Enyimba will miss Nnaemeka Anyanwu who played for Rangers for five years as he is nursing an injury, while Heartland’s Osas Okoro is out of the game after fans of Kano Pillars attacked him last Wednesday after a rescheduled league game.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Heartland have won five Nigeria Premier League titles, the last coming in 1993.
- Enyimba have won 6 Nigeria Premier League titles, their last coming in 2010.
- Heartland have played in the final of the Caf Champions League where they lost in 2010.
- Enyimba have two Caf Champions League titles, they're the most successful Nigerian side in the competition.