By Albert Akota
Nigeria’s flag bearers, Enyimba Football Club must have unwavering self-belief when they take on Raja Casablanca of Morocco in the semi finals of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup, says President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Melvin Pinnick.
Pinnick made this statement yesterday while congratulating the People’s Elephant for their 5-1 defeat of Rayon Sports of Rwanda at the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba which qualified the team for the semi finals of the competition on a 5-1 aggregate.
“I want to commend the players and members of the technical staff for their endeavour in this competition so far. I watched their match against CARA Brazzaville in the group phase and I know the players and technical crew have great ambition and can go all the way to the final and do Nigeria proud by winning the Cup.
“Their next opponents, Raja Casablanca, are a tough act. But Enyimba have the players and the technical team to plot victory and all they require is strong self-belief to conquer the Moroccans. I appeal to all Nigerian ball fans and football stakeholders to give the club necessary support to make us smile, as the only Nigerian club left in continental club competition this year.
“I want to specially praise the efforts of the chairman of the club, Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu, who is a ranking Member of the NFF Executive Committee. The man deserves honour as he has done so much for Nigerian Football. I recall he has been with the team for the past 20 years and led them to the two CAF Champions League titles they have won for Nigeria.”
Following a scoreless draw in Kigali a week earlier, the People’s Elephant started appropriately, as an alert Augustine Dimgba slotted into the visitors’ net after capitalizing on a defensive error in the 13th minute. But Bonfils Caleb Bimenyimana equalized from a close range effort 12 minutes later and the visitors were hopeful.
Enyimba, winners of the CAF Champions League title in 2003 and 2004, regained control in the 29th minute as left back Utin Ikouwem finished brilliantly after picking up a loose ball, and two minutes after the re-start, Sunday Adetunji made it three for the homers.
Joseph Osadiaye, making up for earlier misses, scored the fourth in the 58th minute to take the People’s Elephant out of sight of the visitors. Not done yet, Enyimba kept the fire alive and Isiaka Oladuntoye scored the fifth goal in the 76th minute.
The Nigerians will host Raja Casablanca, first winners of the CAF Champions League title in 1999, in the first leg of their semi final fixture at the Enyimba International Stadium on Wednesday, 3rd October, with the return leg in Casablanca three weeks later.