By Jude Atupulazi
The fifth edition of the Ifeanyi Ekwueme powered TICO/SELECT Preseason Tournament for Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) sides, kicked off in Uyo on Tuesday August 29, 2023 with mouth watering ties.
The tournament which has over the years served as a dress rehearsal for the NPFL has four NPFL sides and four NNL teams in two groups.
In the first game, NPFL defending champions, Enyimba FC, forced newly promoted NNL side, Ona-PAL FC, to a 2-2 draw.
Abede Jerry put the Umuahia Side into the lead in the 18th minute of play but Daniel Ekpo who recently joined Enyimba from Bayelsa United restored parity for the nine-time league winners.
The resilient NNL side with good attacking flair, regained their lead in the 51st minute of the second half but Enyimba’s experience came to bear, especially at the later stages of the game, as their relentless pressure paid off when Enyimba’s Chisom was brought down in the box for a spot kick which he also converted in the 82nd minute of play but all efforts to get the winning goal by the People’s Elephants did not come through before the referee blew the final whistle.
The second game of Match Day One saw two NPFL sides, Rivers United, and Abia Warriors, test their might with the news of the NPFL draws filtering in from Abuja as both teams under the tutelage of very experienced coaches, Eguma and Erasmus Onu, failed to cancel each other out.
Both teams fielded very strong line ups to the delight of the fans who defied the rain to see the preseason games played in Uyo for the first time.