Ahead of Enyimba’s crunch CAF Champions League (CAFCL) first round tie against Sudanese side Al Hilal at the Enyimba Stadium on Sunday, players of the Aba club say they are confident of victory even though they anticipate a stern examination from the North Africans.
Enyimba, looking to progress to the group stage of the CAFCL for the first time in four years take on Al Hilal in the first leg of the CAFCL first round stage in Aba.
The Peoples Elephant comfortably dispatched Burkina Faso side Rahimo FC 5-1 in the previous round while their opponents Al Hilal who arrived Nigeria on Thursday squeezed through on away goals against Rayon Sports of Rwanda.
Playing the first leg at home means Enyimba must fashion out a healthy lead ahead of the return fixture and while they might have put five goals past Rahimo last time out, midfielder Stanley Dimgba who helped himself to a brace in that game believes Al Hilal
“This match is very, very important and Rahimo and Al Hilal are two different clubs,” he said. “And, so, you approach every match the way you see them. For now, Rahimo have come and gone and we need to face Al Hilal and it’s a very important team because they are playing in the continent always, I know it’s going to be difficult but we are going to make sure that we win.”
Mercurial midfielder Chukwuka Onuwa echoes his teammate’s sentiments but says the 2-times CAFCL winners “are ready for the task” of “massively” defeating the North Africans.
An added impetus for Enyimba, Onuwa says, is the return of the home fans to the stands for this encounter after CAF stipulated that the Rahimo game be played behind closed doors due to the club’s failure to satisfy safety requirements.
“We are ready for the task ahead because we have prepared well for it. It’s going to be a tough game but I believe we are going to scale through because we are ready for the task and physically and psychologically.
“We are fit and we need to take advantage of our fans because our fans are coming in that day and we are going to make sure we come out victorious and fight very hard on that day because we know their tactics and we are ready for it and by God’s grace come on Sunday we are going to come out victorious massively.”
Newly recruited striker Martins Usule also believes the presence of the fans will help the home side “overcome” their opponents in the game he says will be “very tough”.
“It’s going to be a very tough game, I know Al Hilal, I’ve been there for long and Enyimba too have been there for long but I believe with what we are doing we are going to overcome them.
“It’s good to have your fans in the field when playing. You know when you have people cheering you up when you’re on the pitch, that joy will be there and I’m so much glad we are going to play with our fans on the day of the game.”
Fellow newbie centreback Abiodun Adebayo who’s yet to make his debut for the record winners of Nigeria’s topflight believes Enyimba’s work in training will yield positive fruits come game day.
“It’s going to be a very great feeling because as a new player if I am selected to be among the player who will start the match, it will be an honour for me so I’m really looking forward to playing in front of them.
“Every match is difficult no match is easy, Al Hilal is a big team, Enyimba too is not a pushover so it’s really going to be a tough match, we expect that.
“But we have really worked hard in training our coaches have really done a great job so I believe come on Sunday we don’t have any option, we don’t have a choice, we just have to come out victorious.”
For rightback Stanley Okorom who scored a sublime goal against Rahimo FC, North African teams are always a tough nut to crack but nevertheless, he says the players are intrinsically motivated to ensure they head to Omdurman with a healthy lead.
“We are not expecting an easy game on Sunday the last time I played against MC Algiers of Algeria it was very tough for us,” he s
The first leg of the CAFCL First Round between Enyimba and Al Hilal is billed for a 4pm kickoff at the Enyimba Stadium with the return fixture scheduled for Omdurman two weeks later.