Enyimba are through to the First Round of the 2019/2020 CAF Champions League after a 5-0 thrashing of Burkina Faso side Rahimo FC at the Enyimba Stadium, Aba but Nigeria’s other representatives Kano Pillars fell 2-0 to Asante Kotoko in Kumasi to lose 4-3 on aggregate and exit the competition at the first hurdle.
Reigning Nigerian champions Enyimba had trailed 1-0 from the first-leg in Ouagadougou a fortnight ago but turned on the burners in Aba with Reuben Bala and Stanley Dimgba bagging two goals apiece and second-half substitute Stanley Okorom also getting in on the act to dispatch Rahimo 5-1 on aggregate.
They were aided by an early red card shown to Rahimo player Issouf Zanen for a brainless foul on Emmanuel Ampiah in the 10th minute after which it was pretty much all Enyimba.
The Peoples Elephant thought they’d taken the lead when Dimgba curled in the 24th minute but his effort was chalked off by the centre referee.
They’d signalled intent and were ahead just eight minutes later through a brilliant Reuben Bala freekick and ended the half level on aggregate.
The two-time CAF Champions League winners certainly stepped up the pace in the second half as substitute Stanley Okorom who had come in for Ampiah doubled their lead just two minutes into the restart.
Enyimba thought they deserved a penalty after Bala was upended in the box in the 61st minutes but their appeals were waved off by the referee and soon after new midfielder Cyril Olisema had a rasping shot tipped on the bar by Rahimo’s goalkeeper as Enyimba searched for the goals to make matters safe.
They duly got the third in the 80th minute when Dimgba finally got the goal his performance deserved and it was four just six minutes later as Bala completed his brace with yet another sweetly taken freekick.
Dimgba put the icing on the cake in the 90th minute to grab his brace and put an emphatic shine on the scoreline as Enyimba booked their passage to the final qualifying round.
They next face Sudanese giants Al Hilal with the first leg coming up between 13/14/15 September in Aba and the reverse fixture in Omdurman between 2/28/29 September.
In the other fixture, Pillars took a slim 3-2 lead to the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi knowing that a clean sheet was essential to their hopes of progressing but were a goal down inside a minute to a Mathew Kelvin Andoh strike to leave themselves with an uphill task.
Pillars technical adviser Ibrahim Musa reshuffled his pack throwing on Nzube Anaezemba and Yusuf Maigoro in response to going down as he sought to salvage the game.
The goals though, proved elusive and with time running out, Pillars left themselves wide open to let Emmanuel Gyamfi score Kotoko’s second in the 90th minute to put the final nail in Pillars’ coffin as they crashed out 4-3 on aggregate.