Nine-time Nigerian League champions Enyimba failed to make it count when it mattered in their preliminary round first leg encounter of the 2023/24 CAF Champions League over the weekend.
The People’s Elephant suffered a 4-3 loss away to Al Ahli Benghazi of Libya in a game many thought they didn’t deserve to lose, especially after taking an early lead just three minutes into the match through Chijoke Mbaoma.
Despite losing the seven-goal thriller, Mbaoma believes he and his teammates will get it right in this weekend’s second-leg clash in Aba.
“Our plan in this game was to get a positive result,” the forward said to EnyimbaFC.net. “We made some mistakes at the back but pushed them until the very last minute and deserve a draw at least, but they scored, and that is painful. It’s a very sad result for me personally, but I am also proud of what we did there.
“North Africa is a tough region, and on matches like this, their fans make the atmosphere very intimidating, but we stuck to our game plan and, who knows, might have won outrightly had we converted most of our chances.”
“We are not satisfied, but we need to be happy with ourselves and look forward to the next leg. They have played and won at home; now it’s time for us to go home and play with our fans and show them what we, too, can do.”
Mbaoma conceded the second leg would be explosive but remained optimistic he and his teammates would do enough to emerge winners and qualify for the next round.
Sky still blue
The other Nigerian club in the Champions League, Remo Stars, are also in a similar situation.
Medeama SC of Ghana secured a narrow victory over the Sky Blue Stars in the first leg of their CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg at the Cape Coast Stadium Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Jonathan Sowah’s long-range strike in the 21st minute of the game was enough for the host team to pick up the vital victory.
Remo Stars showed resilience to finish the game without conceding a second goal, despite a host of attempts from the home team.
The Sky blue stars will now have to win by at least a two-goal margin in Nigeria to gain automatic qualification to the next round.
A 1-0 victory, however, for the Ikenne-based club will mean both teams will be headed for extra time and maybe spot kicks from the penalty mark after 120 mins to decide who progresses in the tie.
The Ikenne boys would be very confident of turning the tie in their favour in the second leg, which comes up on 27 August at the Remo Stars Stadium, Ikenne, Nigeria.
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