Enyimba captain Austin Oladapo has backed the Peoples Elephants to surmount the challenge of Sunday’s quarter-finals opponents Pyramids FC over two legs and progress to the last four of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Fatai Osho’s side travel to last season’s losing finalists Pyramids for the first-leg at the 30 June Air Defence Stadium, Cairo, on the back of some pretty torrid results away against North African teams.
Enyimba, semifinalists in 2018 and quarterfinalists last season, last achieved a result of any kind against North African opposition away from home in CAF competitions in 2011 when they beat Sudanese side Al Hilal Omdurman in the Champions League group stage.
The Aba side has, however, failed to muster even a draw at North African sides in the Confederation Cup and they lost both of their matches at Al-Ahli Benghazi and ES Setif in the group stage of this season’s competition.
Enyimba’s cause isn’t helped by a poor run of form that has left them without a win in three games and in Pyramids, they face a side with just one loss in eight games, although that loss came at home to Ceramics in the Egyptian Premier League.
Oladapo admits that the two-time African champions have found it hard on their travels to North Africa but believes they’ve garnered plenty of experience from playing Setif and Al-Ahli Benghazi this season and are well-versed in what is required to see off Egyptian side Pyramids over two legs.
With the return encounter at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba next week and with the Nigerians having won home games against Setif and Al-Ahli Benghazi, Oladapo says fans of Nigeria’s sole remaining representatives on the continent “should not be worried” because the Aba Elephants have devised a gameplan “to make sure a North African team does not give us a set back this time around.”
“North African teams are very good teams. They know how to play the game. When you talk about Africa, you talk about North Africans, they’re good. But at this point, I think we have played them enough,” Oladapo said. “I think we have two North African teams in the group stage, and we were able to scale through, even though we found it very difficult in their home.
“We couldn’t get a good result there, but at least when we played them here in Aba we were able to scale through. I think the experience we had with Setif, and the experience we had with Ahli Benghazi, is going to help us a lot in playing Pyramids.
“I think there is no need to be worried. I think the fans should not be worried, we’re going to make them proud. We’re going to make sure we work on ourselves to make sure a North African team does not give us a setback this time around.”