Dakkada International Football Club of Uyo will, on Sunday, host city rivals Akwa United in a Matchday 10 fixture in the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
Both teams will meet for the first time in the NPFL as debutants Dakkada International just got promoted into the country’s first division this season.
Prior to the emergence of Dakkada FC (formerly Akwa Starlets) in the Premier League, Uyo fans had just the 2017 Aiteo Cup Champions to cheer but that is already changing.
The Premier League debutants have left their more accomplished city rivals in the shade with the best start in topflight history of any newly promoted team and playing an enticing style of football that Akwa United can only aspire to.
Dakkada currently occupy second position on the NPFL log with 16 points, two shy of leaders Plateau United and are the only side yet to taste defeat away from home albeit their lone loss in the league this season have come at home to Kano Pillars.
In contrast, Akwa United as has become customary in recent seasons, have struggled early on and find themselves on the wrong end of the log in 15th place having won just two matches all season with reports of internal strife and player insubordination rife.
Their disappointing start to the season has already cost former head coach John Obuh his job with erstwhile assistant Duke Udi following closely behind.
Obuh’s record in charge of the Promise Keepers reads one win four draws and three losses.
For coach Caleb Esu, who recently revealed his coaching inspiration, Sunday’s derby marks a first career meeting with Uyo’s big boys Akwa United and would prove a serious test of his mettle.
Similarly, Akwa United’s new coach Kennedy Boboye faces his biggest task just seven days after his appointment as Obuh’s replacement with not just the three points at stake, but bragging rights and a chance to put the young city upstarts in their place.
Akwa Ibom’s Nest of Champions is the centrepiece of this epic showpiece as Dakkada International look to leapfrog Plateau United at the top of the NPFL table.
Akwa United on their own, are seeking for a revival of their season after winning just their second game when they defeated Rivers United 2-1 in their last game.
Having dispatched reigning champions Enyimba on Matchday 9, Esu and his wards are on the hunt for another giant scalp in the shape of their city rivals.
Dakkada FC have had some memorable victories since their promotion to the NPFL this season and that is down to how they have been set up.
Caleb Esu has shown a willingness to deploy the strength and significant height advantage of his strikers to good use always pushing his players upfront as defenders play long balls, with wingers always coming in to support the midfielders.
Isaac George, their current leading scorer, epitomises Esu’s huge appetite for victory and his never-say-die philosophy which is evident from the shift he puts in the middle of the park from where he has scored four goals this season.
While Esu encourages his fullbacks to push up, he also ensures that they maintain their defensive shape, a vital reason why they have proved so hard to beat this season.
Akwa United on their part have struggled to establish a coherent style this season and have been disjointed in recent outings.
However, under former coaches Abdu Maikaba and Rafael Everton, the 2017 Aiteo Cup winners established an easy on the eye free-passing style that helped diminutive players like NPFL record goalscorer Mfon Udoh excel.
Boboye’s task is to engineer a return to those principles and get the best out of a clearly talented squad.
Defensively, Dennis Nya and Sampson Gbadebo will have their hands full trying to cope with the two powerful attackers of the Dakkada team.
As opposed to Dakkada’s 4-4-2 formation, Akwa United like to play a 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding midfielders and one midfielder in the hole behind the striker.
Current Form And Stats:
Dakkada are sitting second on the log with 16 points, having scored 10 goals and conceded six. They have four wins, four draws and one loss.
Their last fixture was a hugely creditable draw at Katsina United in midweek.
Akwa United, on the other hand, are 15th on the log with two wins, four draws and two losses.
Victory for the Promise Keepers might just be the spark needed to turn their season firmly around but a win for Dakkada would provide more glaring evidence that an unlikely tilt at the title might not be too farfetched a proposition for the plucky upstarts in what is already shaping up to be a fairytale debut season.