CAF Champions League: How Al Merrikh Demoted Enyimba To Confederation Cup
By Ebube Dike
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Nigeria sole representatives in the CAF Champions League, Enyimba International FC of Nigeria crashed out of the league despite defeating their opponents, Al Merrikh of Sudan 2-1 in Aba.
The win however was not enough to overturn the huge 3-0 deficit the team suffered in December in the hands of the Sudanese in the first leg.
Prior to the match, Nigeria football analysts were of the view that the most successful club in the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL would defeat their opponents but they would not scale through to the group stage of the league.
Although the People’s Elephant defeated their opponents, they came from an early 1-0 down to claim the unimportant victory.
Victor Mbaoma scored a brace as Enyimba beat Al Merrikh 2-1 in the first round of the Champions League on Wednesday evening, but it fell short of what the Nigerian representatives required to step into the group phase of the competition.
Having lost the first leg to Saifeldin Malik’s hattrick a fortnight prior, The People’s Elephant needed to be at their best to overcome a three-goal deficit, but Malik again proved to be the spoiler as his seventh minute striker handed Enyimba a higher height to scale.
The striker pounced on a lost ball and covered forty meters before slotting past Olufemi Kayode in a brilliant individual goal.
The strike placed Enyimba in need of five goals to stand any chance of progress, and Victor Mbaoma’s equaliser seven minutes later only provided a glimmer. The forward was first to react to Monged Elneel’s spill of Stanley Okorom’s freekick, and it took only a simple tap to drive home.
Samad Kadiri, Daniel Darkwah and Mbaoma all came close as Enyimba pushed for the advantage, but it never came until after the break when Mbaoma converted from the spot after Kadiri was tripped in the box.
With time ticking away, Kadiri hit the woodwork and Sadiq Abubakar missed from range, while the keeper was at his best to deny Darkwah.
Enyimba will thus compete in the Confederation Cup, with a playoff tie against a yet to be determined team scheduled for February.
The draw for the Champions League and Confederation Cup 2nd preliminary round will hold Friday in Cairo, Egypt.