Over 24 hours after Nigeria’s remaining representatives in continental club football, Enyimba FC of Aba, thrashed their Rwandan opponents 5-1 in the CAF Confederation Cup quarterfinal fixture, we look at a few things we gleaned from the game.
Nigerian Club football has returned home;
After almost three years of no football action in Aba, a commercial city in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, The People’s Elephants have returned home to the upgraded Enyimba International Stadium and can now play in front of their teeming fans. Aba is arguably Nigeria’s biggest followers of their local team in Nigeria. Ibadan and Enugu had the title with IICC Shooting Stars and Enugu Rangers respectively of those days but with Enyimba’s rise in the early 2000s, Aba has overtaken all cities including the densely populated Kano in filling up their home ground’s stands on match days irrespective of time and day. Aba have seen more clubs from around Africa than any other city since 2000 and the number is likely to increase with Enyimba’s recent ascendancy.
Aba prefer evening games;
For a city that sleeps around 10pm, it sounds strange that residents will prefer the evenings to afternoons but taking into consideration the fact that most of the residents are traders and seem to be wired to relax in the evening more than the afternoon which is a very busy time for them. A 5pm fixture will easily have a lot of crowd than a 2pm fixture but irrespective of the time, there will always be about 70% attendance at anytime.
Five goals, but more work is needed in attack
Enyimba scored five goals in one match in the continent for the first time in a long while reliving the days of beating Bakili Bullets 6-1 on their route to continental success but the conversion worries of the team is far from over. The strikers need to start working for goals if they must move to the next stage. Of the five goals on the day, two were from defenders, a fullback and a center back. The strikers must move the ball around in the danger areas and work together as a team. Enyimba have good strikers but they must show that they are really good.
No Mfon, No Problems?
Every team boasts of a star player and the captain, Mfon Udoh, fits into all the description of a star man at Enyimba FC. A player who is revered and respected not just in Nigeria but also around Africa. Little wonder the Rwandans never stopped asking if he was going to feature. Mfon Udoh is currently out of the team but if reports from the team is anything to go by, then the debacle is about to be history. In his absence, Enyimba switched formation to suit the players at his disposal. Everyone at the club is almost as good as everyone else.
Usman Abd’allah is just good;
The former nigerian youth international arrived at Enyimba FC as an assistant to Paul Aigbogun who held the reigns for some time before he left the club to concentrate on his duties as the coach of the national under 20 side, the Flying Eagles, a job that came as a result of his success. Abd’allah succeeded him and after a lackluster display against Williamsville Athletic Club in Port Harcourt, the team’s last home game away from home, it has been a gradual increase in performance for the team which has seen them go for five games without a defeat in the continent, conceding twice and failing to win on just one ocassion. It is evident that the soft spoken coach has improved the team and everyone can attest to it.
5-Star performance but there’s a 7-Star;
Enyimba put in a stellar performance on Sunday afternoon, hitting their opponents for five and keeping them at bay for greater periods but their performance was far from perfect. Afelokhai was rarely tested in goal but had a couple of poor decisions though none resulted in a goal.
The defensive pair of Anaemena and Oladuntoye had some flaws too same as the fullbacks. The midfield was near perfect, linking up play between the defense and the attack but more decisive passes are needed in the final third and these passes must be utilized properly by the strikers. At this stage of the competition, no stone is left unturned.