CAF CL: Enyimba fall at first hurdle to Zamalek

Nigeria's representative at Africa's premier club competition, Enyimba football club got off to the worst possible start imaginable when they fell 0-1 to Egypt's Zamalek at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt on Sunday evening.

CAF CL: Enyimba fall at first hurdle to Zamalek
Enyimba FC

Coach Paul Aigbogun had stressed before the match commenced the importance of a winning start for the People’s elephants, considering the notorious difficulty of getting away results in the competition. What, however he didn’t bargain for was seeing the side concede a goal in the first ten minutes of the game.

The match started at a frenetic pace with both sides exchanging blows on a water logged pitch that made stringing three passes in a row quite difficult. Enyimba controlled possession, while Zamalek were looking to hit on the counter. That approach paid off for the White Knights as Bassem Morsi put Zamalek ahead in the 7th minute with a lobbed header to the surprise of the home side.

Enyimba took the match to the visitors, and went close on several occasions, but spurned the chances for a leveller, with Mfon Udoh and Ifeanyi Onuigbo the main culprits. Zamalek also had goalkeeper El-Shennawy to thank for a number of impressive saves to keep his team ahead. The first half ended with Zamalek having the edge and the solitary goal, although Mohamed Ibrahim was given a caution for a foul in stoppage time.  

The second half started pretty much in the same way the first half ended, with Zamalek showing more initiative. Soon after, Enyimba began to assert more dominance and went close as usual with failure to convert chances into goals.

Abu Azeez and Chukwube Chukwude were introduced by Aigbogun in the 61st and 72nd minutes respectively to find at least an equaliser but the changes didn’t yield the required fruit. As the clock ticked by, Paul Aigbogun threw on Daniel Etor in the 83rd minute but scores stayed the same at the final whistle with Enyimba lucky not to concede a second goal in the dying minutes.

This result puts more pressure on Coach Aigbogun as the reigning Nigerian champs went into the game on the back of an unimpressive run in the Nigeria Professional Football League - with three defeats and a draw in their last four games.
Coach Mohammed Helmy missed the services of five key players owing to injuries and disciplinary issues, yet still boasted of a solid team that got a result in Port-Harcourt.

In the group’s other game, Mamelodi Sundowns beat E.S Setif of Algeria in Setif by two goals to nil to put them in the driving seat. Enyimba’s next game would see them travel to South Africa to play Mamelodi Sundowns on the 29th of June.