By Aniekeme Unyah
Akwa United will host Dakkada FC at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, on Wednesday 12th February. The fixture, originally scheduled for April, was brought forward by the League Management Company to avoid manipulations, given the fact that both clubs receive funding from the same source.
Akwa United got the better of Dakkada in the first-ever topflight meeting between the two sides. The Promise Keepers won the tie 1-0 through Akarandut Orok’s first-half strike.
The Promise Keepers sit sixth on the table with 28 points after 19 games, while Dakkada are placed fifth — with just a point separating them. On Wednesday, both teams will be looking to record a win in order to move up the table and boost their top-three ambitions.
Last weekend, the two teams played out goalless draws, blowing away their chances to close in on the top-three. Dakkada were frustrated by the heroics of Chinedu Anozie, who saved a late Eso Archibong spot-kick. Akwa, on the other hand, could not get past a resolute Enugu Rangers side. In the wake of the disappointing results, Esu and Boboye’s teams will both be aiming to win the derby. Boboye, in particular — whose side have not hidden their title ambitions — knows the implications dropping points against Dakkada would have on Akwa’s ambitions.
The two teams share the Nest of Champions, but the first derby — which was played on December 22 — was listed as a Dakkada home game. In truth, that fixture felt like a home tie for both teams. Ahead of the tie, Akwa United coach Kennedy Boboye told a group of journalists that he saw the match “as a home game” for his side.
And speaking of home form, the two-time Aiteo Cup champions have earned 19 points from ten home matches this season, and so have Dakkada. Given this, it’s safe to say that the game will end in a stalemate, isn’t it? But then, Caleb Esu’s team — who are the tie’s visitors — have the best away record (10 points from a possible 27). If this is also considered, the odds are in favour of the newcomers. But can they play with the “away” mentality in Uyo? Well, that remains to be seen.
WHERE THE GAME COULD BE WON AND LOST
Akwa United parade more quality upfront than their neighbors, but they’ve scored less goals. Again, Boboye’s men have not scored in their last two games, while Esu’s wards have netted once in the same number of games. But then, this is a derby, so previous results and performances may not necessarily count. Both sets of players will be looking to give their very best not just for the points but bragging rights. So, if hardwork and determination fail to determine the outcome of the game, quality will decide the contest. And that means, the tie will swing in Akwa’s favour.
The fans’ cheers and jeers may also prove decisive. While The Promise Keepers may have a huge fan base in Uyo, Dakkada are gradually racking up good number of supporters following their impressive displays. As a matter of fact, the newly-promoted side had more of the cheers during the first meeting but it was understandable, given Akwa’s poor return of results back then. Following their improved form, The Promise Keepers have regained their supporters — and this could prove useful on Wednesday.
Possible Starting Line-Ups
Kennedy Boboye will likely go for a killer after picking just two points from his last two games.
Akwa United: 4-3-3
Goalkeeper: Jean Efala
Defence: Etyboy Akpan, Chiwendu Ali, Denis Nya, Olisa Ndah
Midfield: Morice Chukwu, Ukeme Williams, Ndifreke Effiong
Attack: Ubong Friday, Akarandut Orok, Ifeanyi Eze
Coach Caleb Esu is expected to deploy his conservative away tactics to try and absorb the pressure from The Promise Keepers and attack them when possible.
Dakkada FC: 4-5-1
Goalkepper: Vincent Edafe
Denfence: Unwanna Asuquo, Imo Obot, Harrison Ibukun, Somiari Alalibo
Midfield: Osimaga Duke, Spenser Bassey, Isaac George, Moses Effiong, Eso Archibong
Attack: Femi Ajayi
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