Enyimba coach Fatai Osho has stated his side and Rivers United, who they defeated 1-0 on Sunday in the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup playoff tie, both deserve a place in the group stage of the competition.
His statement is based on the quality he saw both teams display in Aba on Sunday in a rain-soaked encounter.
A 59th minute effort by midfielder Cyril Olisema, who finished a brilliant solo run by Anayo Iwuala, decided the keenly-contested match, which the hosts ended with 10 men, following the expulsion of striker Tosin Omoyele in the second half.
“I will maintain the fact that it is just a sorry story that we have Rivers United coming up against Enyimba,” he said. “Looking at the standard exhibited today (Sunday), it’s clear that we could have been good representatives of the country, not playing each other. Looking at that standard, I am of the opinion. I am so sure about that, both teams could have been in the group stage.
“But then, we can’t do anything, the fixtures have been made and the match has to be played.
“Generally, it was a good level of play. This is what we expected from the Rivers team. I was telling my Oga (Stanley Eguma) here, that ‘we expected a war’ and they gave it to us.
“It won’t be easy, and we’ve been preparing the mind of the players towards this. And looking what Rivers United and Enyimba have been doing in the league, the position tells the whole story. It’s more like the celebration of the NPFL. A big one for the NPFL,” the former Remo Stars coach concluded.
Both teams face off again in the reverse fixture in Port Harcourt on Sunday, 21 February, with aggregate winners progressing to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.