There would be no love lost between Enyimba International and Heartland FC when both clubs face each other at the Eket Township Stadium in Akwa Ibom for the zonal playoffs of Naija Super 8 scheduled for June 24.
At stake is the coveted slot for the South-East zone at the maiden edition of the fan-centric off-season tournament, which will be held from July 9-16 at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium, Lagos.
Enyimba International and Heartland FC polled 94, 034 and 63, 327 respectively to see off competition from Rangers International, Edel FC, Abia Warriors and Cynosure FC to set up this keenly anticipated tie. Whichever team qualifies for the tournament could potentially earn over N37 million and make history as the first ever winner of the Naija Super 8 trophy.
Both clubs have gone head-to-head on 25 occasions, with Heartland FC got winning nine times, while Enyimba won on 7 times. Heartland FC fans fondly remember when their club got the better of their fierce rivals at the 2011 Federation Cup final.
However, while Heartland have had more victories against their rival, Enyimba has a fuller trophy cabinet and a legitimate claim to be regarded as one of the country’s most successful clubs. The People’s Elephant are the only club to have lifted the continental premier prize, the CAF Champions League, which they won in 2003 and 2004.
Enyimba, who are the newly crowned NPFL champions, have also won the league title nine times, FA Cup, four times; and the Super Cup, four times.
Heartland, on the other hand, have been league champions on five occasions, FA Cup winners three times and winners of the Super Cup on three occasions. They were runners-up in the 1988 African Cup of Champions Clubs and 2009 CAF Champions League. In recent years, Heartland have endured two relegations to the second tier in 2016 and 2022.
The two clubs are coached by ex-internationals. Legendary Super Eagles winger, Finidi George, is in charge of Enyimba, while reserve goalkeeper, Christian Obi runs the show at Heartland FC.Make it a date next Saturday with the gladiators of the oriental derby. Experience the best of Nigerian football at Eket Township Stadium, Akwa Ibom State or tune in SuperSport Variety 4 (DStv channel 209) and SuperSport Select 2 (GOtv channel 63) at 5pm to catch the action live.