CAF CL: Enyimba to salvage continental hope

Nigeria’s flag bearer in the CAF Champions League Enyimba FC of Aba will try to get their campaign back on track when they play Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium, South Africa.

CAF CL: Enyimba to salvage continental hope
Enyimba FC players celebrate after a goal. picture source: AIT

The People’s Elephants were beaten 0-1 in their first group stage game by Zamalek at the Adokiye Amesiamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt and must now stage a comeback if they nurse any ambition of making it to the knock-out stages.

The trip to Pretoria will be a stern test for the Paul Aigbogun tutored side. Domestic form for the two-time champions league winners has gotten better and may be what will buoy Enyimba to victory in South Africa.

What was thought to be a brilliant start for the South Africans turned sour when points gained in their victory over Algerian side ES Setif was lost. CAF had earlier disqualified the Algerian side from the competition after crowd troubles marred the 2-0 victory in Algiers, much to the dismay of Coach Pitso Mosimane.

“You have to win two games at home‚ beat Zamalek and Enyimba then you are on six points‚” Mosimane told reporters via Timeslive.

“Our mentality has changed a bit‚ we have found our confidence to go out and win.”

With Sundowns brimming with confidence though disappointed starting again on a clean slate; Enyimba Coach Paul Aigbogun knows that another loss will may put to rest his team’s chances of making it to the semi-finals in what is now clearly, a three-team group with only Zamalek with an advantage.

Enyimba are not as bad as the last result suggests and the team has traveled with lots on encouragement and confidence boost from their fans but pretty football and dominance may not be the prerequisite to win against Sundowns, it may have to boil down to the killer instincts of the team.

“We dominated at least 80 percent of the game‚” Aigbogun said in his post match conference after the Zamalek defeat in Port-Harcourt.

He continued: “But in football‚ you can dominate without putting the ball in the net. We have taken a lot of positive points from the game. Zamalek is not a bad team.

“We are in a tough group. We will play our remaining matches with confidence.”

The People’s Elephants in 2005 drew 1-1 against Ajax Cape Town in South Africa before claiming a 2-0 victory against the Urban Warriors in Aba. The subsequent year, Enyimba were paired with Orlando Pirates at this same stage and lost 1-0 in South Africa‚ but held the Buccaneers to a 1-1 draw in Aba.

Enyimba’s sojourn with South African clubs especially in the Champions League has been bitter sweet, only once have they claimed victory but this time, Paul Aigbogun with new technical addition Samson Unanuel, will try to better the results of the past.