CAF CONFEDERATION CUP
Substitute Wasiu Alalade grabbed the last gasp, lone goal winner that shot Enyimba to the quarter-final stage of the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup against CARA Brazzaville of Congo last night in Aba.
The lone Nigerian team standing in CAF continental campaign this season topped Group C on 12 points while the Congolese also qualified as the runners up of the group on nine points.
The hard-fighting Congolese have Djoliba of Mali to thank for holding Ivorian team, Williamsville to a barren draw in Abidjan. Win or draw for Williamsville would have created problems for CARA.
Before that saving goal came from the boots of Alalade who cashed on the rebound from Mfon Udoh’s free-kick, Enyimba had hit the cross bar in the dying minutes of the game but the absence of a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) denied the Aba team what looked like a deserved goal.
Playing their first game in three years at the newly refurbished Enyimba Stadium, the People’s Elephant took the game to the visitors as early as the third minute when but Augustine Oladapo’s drive from the edge of the box shaved the wrong side of the post.
Ten minutes later Augustine Dimgba was at it again for the Nigerian side, but he saw his shot from 20 yards out well-saved by the Brazzaville keeper, Chili Ngakosso.
CARA offered very little in terms of attack in the opening half with their only significant shot on goal coming on the half hour mark when Ngoma Mbo broke into the box, but he was denied in a one-on-one with the keeper.
Enyimba controlled the remainder of the half, but failed to find a goal before the halftime break.
The home side continued to dictate matters in the second half and Oladapo went close to scoring again in the 55th minute, but his attempt from just inside the box went inches wide of the target.
Much like the first half the visitors struggled in the final third and often gifted the ball back to the opposition due to some poor passing.
Still, Enyimba pushed forward and were finally rewarded for all their possession when Alalade scored the winning goal in the 94th minute.
The beautiful turf on which Enyimba grabbed the ticket to the quarter final however witnessed some of their players celebrating like they were in any of the great grounds in the English Premiership.
For the first time the players did some belly diving without any fear of injury.
Aba fans who have been starved of great football spectacles for years trooped into the pitch and began dancing Shaku-Shaku.
FINAL GROUP C TABLE
P W D L GF GA PTS
Enyimba 6 4 0 2 5 5 0 12
CARA Bra. 6 3 0 3 7 5 +2 9
Williamsville 6 2 2 2 5 5 +0 8
Djoliba 6 1 2 3 3 5 -2 5