Enyimba captain Austin Oladapo says the Peoples Elephants will be counting on their rich continental experience and pedigree to defeat domestic rivals Rivers United in their CAF Confederation Cup playoff tie next month.
The two-time African champions Enyimba will host the first leg in Aba on 14 February (Valentine’s Day), while the second leg is slated for the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium in Port Harcourt a week later, with aggregate winners of the fixture advancing to the money-spinning group stage of the competition.
Winners of the CAF Champions League (2003 and 2004) and CAF Super Cups (2004 and 2005), Enyimba also reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup in 2018 and 2019 respectively, and the 25-year-old former Kwara United player is hoping the experience garnered over the years in CAF Inter-Club competitions will work in their favour against Rivers United, who as Dolphins, lost the 2005 final to Moroccan outfit FAR Rabat.
Enyimba also reached the semi-finals of the 2011 CAF Champions League, losing 1-0 on aggregate to Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.
Nonetheless, Oladapo admitted the fixture will be a very tough one considering the quality of players at the disposal of both sides.
“It’s not going to be an easy one. Everyone is expecting a very big, tough game from that particular match,” he told www.busybuddiesng.com.
“The truth is Rivers United have been on a very good form from the CAF Confederation Cup to the league (NPFL), and on our part, we have been doing very well in the league. We are prepared for that particular game.
“We know Rivers United, they have big players, they have experienced players, but one thing I know is that we are more experienced than them when it comes to continental football.
“I think we are going to be counting on our experience to make sure we overcome them. But like I said, it’s not going to be a very easy game. It’s going to be very, very tough.”
To reach the playoffs, Rivers United thrashed South African side Bloemfontein Celtic 5-0 on aggregate, while Enyimba were demoted to the CAF Confederation Cup after losing 4-2 over two legs to Al Merrikh of Sudan.
It is the first time two Nigerian teams are meeting at this stage of the competition.