Making his debut for CAFCL Gazette, Ponyak Josiah explains why Enyimba FC should be concern about their 2020/2021 CAF Champions League mission.
Enyimba FC have been pitted against, Sudanese side, Al Merrikh in the final qualifying round of the CAFCL ahead of the Group Stage. The tie looks evenly matched on paper. But is this the case? In this article, I highlight some of the reasons why the Nigerian club might not reach the CAF Champions League Group Stage.
Lack of Experience
In what could have been one of the easier chances to qualify, it is a concern that the inexperience of a large part of the Enyimba squad might show. They let Theophilus Afelokhai and Ifeanyi Anaemena, who were part of the squad that last succeeded in reaching the group stage in 2016 leave; not even mentioning Stanley Dimgba who was their best player in the recently concluded CAFCC season and arguably their best player throughout last season.
Lack of Competitive Football
The Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) has is yet to resume due to reasons unknown. This might have an adverse effect on their chances of qualifying as they now resort to playing friendly games in order to keep their players fit.
It is worth noting that the Sudanese League is yet to resume also.
Victor Mbaoma is Injured
The injury of Victor Mbaoma, the clubs top scorer in the NPFL last season, could spell trouble for the People’s Elephant as the first leg of the two legged CAFCL tie will be in Omdurman. Mbaoma suffered an ankle injury during the Preliminary Round second leg match against Rahimo. Enyimba FC seem to be well stocked though as the other striking option, Tosin Omoyele has some experience playing in the qualifying rounds. But his lackluster finishing against Rahimo better be a thing of the past or it might be a long day for Enyimba.
Poor Away Form
Enyimba’s recent away form against the top sides of African football (yes, Al Merrikh is still a top side) is a cause for concern. They have struggled on the road and then ben unable to overturn results on their own turf. Last seasons final qualifying round against Al Hilal, another Sudanese club, Hassania Agadir of Morocco and Horoya of Guinea, both in last seasons Confederations cup are enough proof.
We Don’t Know How Good This Enyimba Team is
As the exits of fellow NPFL clubs Plateau United and Kano Pillars have shown, a talented team on paper will still have to show it on the pitch and that is where both clubs fell short. The team’s gaffer Fatai Osho has put his faith in talented youngsters like Anayo Iwuala, Gabriel Orok, Stephen Manyo and also brought in new faces in Omoyele, Nabil Yarou who played in the Confederations cup with Beninese side ESAE FC, Hassan Abubakar just to mention a few.
As it is, can Augustine Oladapo, Anayo Iwuala and Cyril Olisema carry the team now that Stanley Dimgba, Abdulrahman Bashir, Ifeanyi Anaemena and Theophilus Afelokhai have left? Can the team deliver against the Sudanese side hoping to make a statement after three agonizing exits? We will have to see.
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