February, 27 2022.
The Afonja warriors and the Ikon Allah Boys are two traditional clubs in the land, the two teams, of North Central Region shares so much in common and have huge history as well as ardent followers.
This regional contest, has memories of keenly contested duels, the rivalry is due largely to close proximity of the two states. This match always set thongs wagging as to which team would come out tops and claim pride as well as bragging rights.
It remains on record that Coach Abdullahi Biffo of Kwara United once guided Niger Tornadoes to promotion in 2015, at that time, the present head Coach of Niger Tornadoes, Abubakar Bala Mohammed was part of Biffo's technical bench as Chief Coach and interestingly, when Biffo left, Bala took over and against all odds, guided the team to safety and also qualified for the Aiteo Cup final in 2017 losing to eventual winners Akwa United via penalty shoot outs.
Within the short span of his spell as ahead Coach, Bala announced his arrival on the big stage and the exploit earned him a National team call up as he teamed up with Abdul Maikaba as Nigeria U20 technical bench to 2018 U20 Junior World Cup and in between managed Kwara United at some point, ever since, the Niger State soccer tactician has not looked back.
Bala guided Niger Tornadoes to continental outing in 2019 having led his team to finish as runner up to Kano Pillars in yet another miraculous outing in the Aiteo Cup, upon his second coming as Technical Adviser of the Niger State darling team.
The more tedious of all for Bala was matching Biffo's record of guiding the Minna based outfit to promotion during the 2020/2021 league season emerging as the overall best team in the second tier league.
Kwara United gaffer Abdullahi Biffo since departing Minna has managed Abia Warriors and Katsina United before taking up his current job as Coach of the Afonja Warriors as Kwara United are fondly called.
The two coaches shares so much in common, as both favors possession based football.
The players too were not left out of the swap deals involving the two teams.
Sunday Akinmoladun, Peter Momoh, Musa Wakili, Shamsudeen Hashim are among the current Niger Tornadoes players who played under Abubakar Bala Mohammed at Kwara United, while Afeez Nosiru and Bamidele Ayodeji also had a stint with the Ikon Allah Boys.
This encounter is always tricky as it often do not favor the hosts
Last four NPFL meetings
May. 2019 Niger Tornadoes 0-1 Kwara United
Feb. 2019 Kwara United 2-0 Niger Tornadoes
May. 2018 Niger Tornadoes 1-1 Kwara United
Jan. 2018 Kwara United 0-2 Niger Tornadoes
Musa Wakili and Jacob John returns after they both missed out of the last game due to minor injury. Cheering news however is the return to training of club legend Lukman Muhammed after nearly eight weeks on the sideline, the versatile attacking midfielder did not travel but is expected to be back in the main team soonest.