The Nigeria Professional Football League has a reputation for being predictable, because home teams typically win on their turf while away teams set up to settle for a draw.
This has led to the log looking very close but it still doesn’t take away the thrill the game brings.
It’s difficult to churn out results away from home in the NPFL, when one considers that teams subject themselves to long travels on bad roads, which leave them fatigued and out of shape, among other factors.
They eventually end up underperforming come matchday.
Warriors FC (@AbiaWarriors) May 13, 2018
However, one team that is bucking the trend are Abia Warriors.
The Umuahia outfit are presently on a good run away, claiming points in five of their last six games on the road, winning one and drawing four.
The victory came in their most recent encounter against Mountain of Fire FC, winning 1-0 last Sunday at the Agege Stadium, courtesy of a fine strike from Ndifreke Effiong.
While it was their first away win of the campaign, that they’ve gone to big teams such as Akwa United, FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Rivers United to earn points should earn them plaudits.
Abia Warriors' win at the Soccer Temple on Sunday wasn't a fluke, they stuck to their plan (counter attacking football), showed some quality defending and coupled with the superb officiating they left with maximum points. MFM were below par throughout.#NPFL— Areo Samueli O. (@Undisputed_Jsam) May 16, 2018
It’s really a turnaround for the Abia State capital club, who went winless in five of their opening eight games of the season, and it seemed as though coach Emmanuel Deutsch’s job was on the line.
However, the Cameroonian is now receiving the praise he deserves.
Warriors sit in eighth on the log, six points away from the continental places and with home form that has seen them win six out of 10 games.
Having lost none, they could be set to achieve big things in the second half of the season.
Nigeria (@OptaNGR) May 13, 2018
After the win in Agege on Sunday, Goal asked coach Deutsch what the secret was behind his team’s revamped form.
"We simply play with heart," he said. “There's no secret in football. As we are playing, we are watching our opponents.
"My players train well and are free to express themselves and we are getting the results."
Abia Warriors have the second best away form in the NPFL this year after Enyimba.
They have had fine results on the road down the years, such as in 2016 when they were in early contention for the title under the watch of Kennedy Boboye, but their biggest undoing was losing steam in the second half of the campaign.
Having started 2018 in better shape, could things be different this time?
Abia Warriors have lost just one of their last six away games (W1 D4) and are currently the best away side of that period. Safe to say the Cameroonian gaffer, Emmanuel Deutsch hasn't done badly with the Umuahia based side.#NPFL— Areo Samueli O. (@Undisputed_Jsam) May 16, 2018
Goal also caught up with winger Bashir Sheriff after the MFM game, and he was upbeat that the form of the Umuahia outfit can be maintained and that they can secure a spot in continental competition next term.
"When we started it people didn't believe it," he said, "but we are still going with it and we will be improving on it.
"If we can continue this way, I am confident we can get a continental ticket and we will be prepared for it."
Success doesn’t come easy, but with determination and consistent effort, the Warriors could be set for a breakthrough end of the season.
Although the second half of the NPFL campaign still has 17 games left to go, Deutsch’s charges will try to remain motivated as they’ve been so far.
He's already proved that positive results can be secured on the road with a right combination of attitude and approach.
Abia Warriors' away form should set the blueprint for the division's other heavyweights to follow, if they don't, then the Umuahia-based club could be primed to upset the established order between now and the season's end.