- Pinnick hails team, demands self-belief against Raja
Femi Solaja with reports
Nigeria’s lone survivor in continental club football, Enyimba FC lived up to their name and continental club reputation after a comprehensive 5-1 win over visiting Rayon Sports of Rwanda in the return leg match of CAF Confederation Cup quarterfinals in Aba yesterday.
After a goalless outing in the first leg, the Nigerian side shrugged of a jerky start to ultimately cruise into the semi final with 5-1 win over the two legs.
Playing before a large crowd at the refurbished pitch, the team gave the fans a lot to cheer and the shape of what is to happen commenced in the 12th minute when Soporishi Dimgba shot the his side into the lead but the Rwandans who needed a score draw to advance, pulled back the goal through Caleb Bimenyimana in the 25th minute before Ikouwen Utin shot Enyimba ahead again in the 29th minute for Enyimba to have a 2-1 lead into the second half.
Sunday Adetunji consolidated the lead three minutes into the second half while on the dot of the hour, Joseph Osadiaye put the game beyond the Rwandans. Ten minutes to the end of regulation time, Isiaka Oladuntoye put in the fifth goal.
Enyimba came out firing following the break and doubled their advantage in the 48th minute as Dimgba set up Sunday Adetunji for an easy finish following a devastating move.
The game was put beyond the reach of the visitors when Joseph Osadiaye free kick was deflected in for the Enyimba’s fourth of the game.
Central defender Isiaka Oladuntoye wrapped up a memorable night for former African champions with a fifth goal before regulation time as Enyimba set up a semi final clash against Raja Casablanca of Morocco who secured a 3-1 aggregate win over over CARA of Congo Brazzaville. The Moroccan side had won the first leg 2-1 away and secured another slim lone goal win late yesterday to reach last four of the second tier continental club cup competition.
Meanwhile, in a message to the Nigerian team yesterday, the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, has urged Nigeria’s flagbearers, to have unwavering self-belief when they take on Raja Casablanca of Morocco in the semi finals.
“I want to commend the players and members of the technical staff for their endeavour in this competition so far. I watched their match against CARA Brazzaville in the group phase and I know the players and technical crew have great ambition and can go all the way to the final and do Nigeria proud by winning the Cup.
“Their next opponents, Raja Casablanca, are a tough act. But Enyimba have the players and the technical team to plot victory and all they require is strong self-belief to conquer the Moroccans. I appeal to all Nigerian ball fans and football stakeholders to give the club necessary support to make us smile, as the only Nigerian club left in continental club competition this year.
“I want to specially praise the efforts of the chairman of the club, Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu, who is a ranking Member of the NFF Executive Committee. The man deserves honour as he has done so much for Nigerian Football. I recall he has been with the team for the past 20 years and led them to the two CAF Champions League titles they have won for Nigeria.”
The Nigerians will host Raja Casablanca, first winners of the CAF Champions League title in 1999, in the first leg of their semi final fixture at the Enyimba International Stadium on Wednesday, 3rd October, with the return leg in Casablanca three weeks later.